The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Tokyo held a reception for Japanese and diplomatic dignitaries at the Reiyukai Centre in Tokyo on Monday, 6 February following the official ceremony on 4 February hosted for the Sri Lankan community.
The event featured traditional Sri Lankan dance performances by the Channa-Upuli dance troupe and messages of greetings by senior Japanese Parliamentarians, in addition to appearances by a large number of diplomatic dignitaries and senior Japanese Government officials.
The attendees included Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister, Hirofumi Hirano, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan for Peace Building, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka, Madam Sadako Ogata, President of JICA, Madam Makiko Kikuta, former Parliamentary Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of the House of Representatives. In addition, Vice Ministers and over 15 senior Japanese Parliamentarians and over 70 Ambassadors and other diplomatic dignitaries attended the event.
The Chief Guest, former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in his opening speech stated that his association with Sri Lanka dates back many years with the formation of the Japan-Sri Lanka Association of which he was former President. The former Prime Minister stated that having visited Sri Lanka six months ago he had witnessed for himself the dividends of peace in the country and felt reassured that Japan’s continued assistance to Sri Lanka had greatly assisted in the rebuilding and development process of the country. Fukuda was of the view that with the commemoration of 60 years of diplomatic relations both countries should make further efforts to strengthen relations.
In his speech, the Guest of Honour Hirofumi Hirano, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and President of the DPJ Japan-Sri Lanka Parliamentarians’ League thanked the Government of Sri Lanka for the invaluable assistance extended in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 11 March. The Minister also highlighted that preparations are underway to form an All-Party Japan Sri Lanka Parliamentarians’ League in the near future.
As the Minister of Education Hirano stressed the importance of people to people exchanges, especially with the current Sri Lankan student population in Japan of around 740 students; the Minister cited the invaluable research which is taking place in the scientific and environmental fields. He further stressed the importance of strengthening the bonds between the two countries.
Ambassador Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda recognised the strong relations between Japan and Sri Lanka and emphasised that this year with the commemoration of 60 years of diplomatic ties further efforts would be made to showcase the growing relations.
The Ambassador emphasised the Overseas Development Assistance of Japan to Sri Lanka stating that it continues to make a positive contribution to the economic and social tapestry of the country. He further stated that with permanent peace having dawned on the country nearly three years ago under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a surge of economic and trading activity is clearly visible due to peace and stability.
The program included three hours of traditional dance performances by the Channa-Upuli Performing Arts Foundation with a dinner reception serving Sri Lankan food, traditional Sri Lankan sweetmeats and Ceylon Tea.