Conference on ‘Emerging Sri Lanka’ held in Tokyo

Thursday, 20 June 2013 01:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Association of Sri Lankan Academics in Japan together with the Embassy of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with Tokyo Institute of Technology, International University of Japan, Saitama University and Sri Lanka-Japan Study Centre of University of Peradeniya, organised the second international conference titled ‘Emerging Sri Lanka: Sharing Japanese Governance and Developmental Experience’ at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Tokyo. Approximately 150 guests and participants attended the conference and a number of senior academics, technocrats and experts addressed the international conference on ‘Emerging Sri Lanka’. The first international conference on ‘Emerging Sri Lanka’ was held in May 2012 at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo. There were a number of academics and experts, both from Sri Lanka and Japan, thus synergising the developmental and intellectual experience. Prof. N.S. Cooray, President of the Association of Sri Lankan Academics in Japan and Professor at the International University of Japan, delivered the welcome address in which he thanked the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Japan for his presence and a galaxy of distinguished senior academics and chancellors of leading universities both from Japan and Sri Lanka, experts in the realm of governance and development and other participants. The Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Japan, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, delivered the opening address. Ambassador Karannagoda accentuated the topicality of this subject of sharing Japanese governance and developmental experience, particularly at this crucial juncture. Ambassador Karannagoda stated that it is crucial to focus on the development of human resources and education, which would enable Sri Lanka to compete in a globalised milieu and that Sri Lanka could learn a great deal from the experience and progress of Japan. In order for this conference to be fully productive and constructive, the implementation process of the initiatives, suggestions and propositions emerging from this conference is indispensable, the ambassador emphasised in his opening address. Prof. Shinichi Kitaoka, President (Chancellor) of International University of Japan and the former Japanese Ambassador to the UN in New York, underlined the bilateral relations in all manifestations between the two countries and the manner in which Sri Lanka could be a developed nation in the near future. Prof. Yoshinao Mishima, President (Chancellor) of Tokyo Institute of Technology also stated in his address that the unprecedented endowments of Sri Lanka could be unleashed for economic advancement. Prof. Athula Senarathna, Vice Chancellor of University of Peradeniya, spoke on the subject of higher education in Sri Lanka: The shift from West to East. In his keynote address, Prof. Senarathna stressed on the rich and opulent past history of Sri Lanka, which the Sri Lankans could leverage to achieve economic advancement and growth in the current era. Prof. Monte Cassim, Sri Lankan born Chancellor of Ritsunmeikan University, in his keynote lecture, addressed the complexity of a local autonomy in a unitary state and the transition of Japan to a decentralised state. Prof. Cassim enumerated the different key eras of the history of Japan and the inherent reasons for the evolvement of Japan as an economic powerhouse. Given the importance and significance of this international conference, there were two other segments and a panel discussion. The two key segments were ‘Strengths and Weaknesses of Human Resource Development in Japanese Higher Educational Institutions’ and ‘Tsunami Mitigation-Lessons Learnt from Sri Lanka and Japan’. The first segment was chaired by Prof. Srikantha Herath of the United Nations University of Japan and the second segment by Prof. Ananda Kumara of Suzuka International University respectively. The two segments were addressed by a number of noted academics from Sri Lanka and Japan and spoke on a myriad of subjects ranging from decentralisation, education and human resource development, empowerment of local governments, post conflict reconstruction to Japanese experience of prevention of disasters, among others. Dr. Nandana Gunawardena of University of Peradeniya elaborated on the newly formed Sri Lanka-Japan Study Centre at the University of Peradeniya. The panel discussion, which was chaired by Prof. Monte Cassim, included academics and experts in the realm of economic development and local governance in Sri Lanka and in Japan. The participants and guests raised and broached a number of questions and comments to the speakers and to the discussants within the theme of the conference. Dr. Duminda Perera, Secretary of the Association, proposed the vote of thanks. The second international conference on ‘Emerging Sri Lanka’ was fruitful and productive since a number of new ideas, initiatives and propositions were raised, proposed and deliberated both by the speakers as well as by the participants. The formation of the Association of Sri Lankan Academics in Japan in November of 2011 was an initiative of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo.  The first President of the Association is Prof. N.S. Cooray of the International University of Japan.