Apr 13, Tokyo: Sri Lanka and Japan agreed to enhance maritime cooperation to ensure freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean and strengthen Sri Lanka's coast guard capabilities.
During the meeting between Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Tokyo on April 12, the two leaders shared the intention to further promote cooperation and exchanges in maritime security and safety, including anti-piracy measures.
In a joint statement issued after the talks the two Premiers stressing the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight and of maintaining a maritime order based on the rule of law including unimpeded commerce called for further cooperation in the maritime field.
Sri Lanka is strategically located along the sea lanes that link Japan with petroleum-producing nations in the Middle East.
Both leaders also welcomed the goodwill training conducted between the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Sri Lankan Navy during port calls in Sri Lanka.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe expressed his gratitude to the Government of Japan for assistance rendered to improve maritime safety capabilities of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard and valued the timely progress in the procurement process of two patrol vessels in the grant aid project for maritime safety, for which Notes were exchanged in June last year.
Welcoming the substantial progress in the high-level defense exchanges between the two countries, the two Prime Ministers discussed ways to further deepen cooperation among the maritime security authorities in the region.
Both leaders also welcomed the broadening of multi-layered exchanges as showcased by the establishment of the Japan-Sri Lanka Defense Dialogue, as well as the holding of the second Dialogue on Maritime Affairs in July this year.
The Japanese Premier suggested participation of Sri Lanka as an observer in the next Japan-India joint exercise between coast guards to be held in India.
In light of further strengthening maritime cooperation between the two countries, Prime Minister Abe suggested the participation of Sri Lanka Coast Guard officials in the Maritime Safety and Security Policy Program which conducts master-level education on maritime security, jointly carried out by the Japan Coast Guard Academy, the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Nippon Foundation.
Recognizing the recent economic growth in Sri Lanka and the increasing demand for maritime shipment and enhanced regional connectivity, both leaders reaffirmed the importance of open, transparent and commercial use of port facilities under full Sri Lankan Government control.
In this regard, Japan will provide 1 billion yen ($9 million) aiming at providing facilities for improved management of the Port of Trincomalee in the Eastern Province.
Both leaders also welcomed the concrete progress of the survey on the development of logistics hub areas in the Colombo North Port and its vicinity.
They encouraged investment by the Japanese private sector in the development of the Colombo port, in view of enhancing its competitiveness with Japan's rich and long-standing expertise in the global standard shipping industry.