AsiaNews: Japan is committed to boosting Sri Lanka’s maritime security, according to Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who is in Colombo on an official visit.
The goal is to counter China’s pre-eminence in the Indian Ocean.
Onodera, whose agenda includes two Sri Lankan ports, donated two coastguard patrol boats, worth $ 11 million.
“Attention has been drawn to further strengthening maritime security cooperation between Japan and Sri Lanka,” a statement from President Maithripala Sirisena’s office said. The Minister yesterday visited the Port of Hambantota, in the south of the country, which Colombo leased to a Chinese company for 99 years.
The port is a key component of Beijing’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ plan, which involves building a series of ports, motorways and railways in South and Central Asia to deliver Chinese goods to Europe.
The Japanese Minister also visited Trincomalee, a natural harbour on the northeastern coast that was targeted by Japanese planes during the Second World War.
Japan’s activism follows India’s. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in fact tried to counter Chinese expansionism, signing agreements with both Sri Lanka and the Seychelles.