Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will be in Colombo tomorrow, described Sri Lanka as a country with a growing influence in economic and political domains.
Speaking to reporters before leaving Tokyo, Abe noted he was the first Japanese premier to visit Bangladesh in 14 years and Sri Lanka in 24 years.
He called Bangladesh and Sri Lanka "countries with a growing influence in economic and political domains".
Japan's premier was due Saturday to arrive in Dhaka for a three-day visit to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka aimed at offsetting China's mounting influence in South Asia.
Prime Minister Abe is to meet President Mahinda Rajapakse on Sunday in Colombo to boost economic and security ties.
"I hope to introduce the dynamism of both countries to Japan's economy by strengthening relations with them and engaging in top-level sales activities," said Abe, who is accompanied by 50 top Japanese corporate executives.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka lie along sea-lanes between the resources-rich Middle East and East Asia. China has helped build ports in countries along the vital shipping route.
In Colombo, Abe and Rajapaksa aim to strengthen maritime territorial cooperation in the face of a more territorially assertive China, media reports said.
Japan is ready to provide patrol boats to help Sri Lanka bolster its maritime guard, according to the reports.