June 12, Colombo: Admiral Katsutosi Kawano, the chief of staff of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the President's House in Anuradhapura Thursday morning.
The discussion centered mainly on enhanced cooperation between the two countries in the area of maritime security and other maritime sectors.
Admiral Kawano said the Japanese Navy would like to learn from Sri Lanka's experiences with antiterrorism operations. The President described the Sri Lanka Navy's contribution to the defeat of terrorism and the difficult circumstances under which they had to conduct the operations and succeeded.
The visiting admiral further expressed Japan's interest in Sri Lanka's ports, noting that "Sri Lanka is at the center of the Indian Ocean." Within the last year and a half, 15 Japanese war ships have come to the Port of Colombo.
In addition to the Colombo Port, Admiral Kawano said he would also like to explore opportunities at the Hambantota Port, especially given its 17-meter depth and its proximity to the world's busiest east-west shipping lane. Welcoming Japan's interest, the President encouraged the Admiral to visit the port.
President Rajapaksa thanked Japan for its continued support, remembering that Japan has always been a key donor country to Sri Lanka and said he looks forward to a visit by Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Admiral Kawano's visit is the first of a Japanese four-star admiral to Sri Lanka. The visit marks a significant step towards enhanced cooperation between the navies of the two countries, which is a direct result of the meeting between President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Abe during the President's visit to Japan in May 2013.
Sri Lanka's Navy Commander Vice Admiral Jayanath Colombage was also present at the meeting.
(Photos by Nishanka de Silva)