Recognizing Sri Lanka’s enormous potential as a maritime nation in the Indian Ocean, the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe, expressed their determination to expand the long-standing friendship between the two countries into “a new partnership between maritime countries”; and further strengthen the cooperative relations to play significant roles in the stability and prosperity of the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.
The Joint Statement issued by the two leaders after bi-lateral discussions at the Presidential Secretariat today, gave much importance to the strategic location of Sri Lanka, in the India Ocean sea lanes straddling Asia and Africa.
They decided that bearing in mind the importance of ensuring the freedom and safety of navigation in the region, it was necessary to establish the Sri Lanka – Japan Dialogue on Maritime Security and Oceanic Issues, which will effectively address the issues of mutual interest in oceanic issues.
With a view to accelerating cooperation on maritime connectivity, the two leaders also shared the intention to promote cooperation in the maritime sector.
President Rajapaksa also expressed his expectation for further cooperation in the fields of ports and harbours development and maritime education.
Prime Minister Abe expressed his gratitude to the Sri Lankan Government for the facilitation of port calls in Sri Lanka by the vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and both leaders expressed satisfaction with the steady progress in the promotion of cooperation and exchanges between the two defense establishments. They welcomed the cooperation between coast guards in the fields of maritime law enforcement, Search and Rescue (SAR), disaster risk reduction and environment protection.
With President Rajapaksa reiterating Sri Lanka’s ongoing engagement with the international community and the United Nations system, Japanese Prime Minister Abe welcomed this continuing engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka, in particular with the Human Rights Council mechanisms, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and its willingness to conduct high-level dialogues with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the invitation extended to hi to visit Sri Lanka during 2014.
The Japanese Prime Minister, who appreciated the political leadership of President Rajapaksa towards national reconciliation, also appreciated the scheduling of a meeting in Geneva with the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (UNWEGEID) later this month and to seek a visit by UNWGEID to Sri Lanka at a mutually appropriate time.
Japan that gave the aid to Sri Lanka to establish the first major island-wide television station and service, in the most suitable technology suitable at that time, is now ready to help Sri Lanka move on to Digital Broadcasting.
In the Joint Statement with President Rajapaksa, Japanese Prime Minister Abe welcomed Sri Lanka’s adoption of the Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial (ISDB-T) as its terrestrial digital television broadcasting system. The two leaders welcomed the signing of the Exchange of notes for a loan amounting up to Yen 13.717 billion for the Digitalizing of Terrestrial Television Broadcasting Project, which includes construction of antenna towers, transmitting station buildings, DBNO Administrative Building, Digital TV Centre and related electrical equipment.
President Rajapaksa welcomed the implementation of a survey with a view to providing educational and documentary TV prgrammes from the Government of Japan. There was also agreement to advance bilateral cooperation in the field of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), including capacity building, which will contribute towards enhanced cooperation in areas such as disaster prevention, education, traffic control, health care, maritime safety, agriculture, tourism and e-Government.
Acknowledging that peace and stability are the desire of all people, the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of national reconciliation for ever-lasting peace in Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Abe, while recognizing the progress made so far in Sri Lanka, reiterated the importance of dialogue among all stakeholders for national reconciliation and further efforts to promote implementing the National Plan of Action on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC).
Prime Minister Abe also highly appreciated the specific actions by Sri Lanka, such as holding the election to the Northern Provincial Council in September 2103, submitting to Parliament the Bill on Assistance to and Protection of Victims and Witnesses, finalizing the report of the Needs Assessment on resettled IDPs, and expanding the mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Missing Persons including establishment of an Advisory Council comprising internationally recognized persons of eminence, as domestic initiatives.
The evolving nature of terrorism and the need for partnership in combating it was addressed in the Joint Statement between the leaders of Sri Lanka and Japan.
The two leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, irrespective of their perpetrators, origin and motivations. They emphasized that the evolving character of terrorism called for stronger international partnership in combating terrorism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence.
They also called for reinvigorating multilateral action on terrorism, including the finalization and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.
UN & SAARC
Prime Minister Abe expressed his gratitude for Sri Lanka’s continued support for Japan’s permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. The two leaders shared the intention to work together to achieve concrete outcomes on Security Council reform, including the expansion of both the permanent and non-permanent categories next year, during the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.
President Rajapaksa welcomed Japan’s constructive a engagement with the member countries of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and strengthening its connectivity, including through the Japan-SAARC Energy Symposium. Prime Minister Abe expressed his intention to further strengthen the relationship with SAARC.
The two leaders o Sri Lanka and Japan expressed their satisfaction at the outcome of the Official Visit by Prime Minister Abe to Sri Lanka, as reflecting the continuing robust relations that exist between the two countries. Prime Minister Abe expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and courtesy extended by President Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan people during the visit.