Sri Lanka, Japan issue Joint Statement to boost bilateral ties

Tuesday, 9 September 2014 00:46 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Sri Lanka and Japan on Sunday reiterated strong ties and renewed further collaboration in the future on a multitude of issues and sectors at bilateral, regional and global level. This reinforcement was following the historic two day State visit by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Sri Lanka. Following is the full text of the joint statement issued by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe paid an official visit to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka from 7 to 8 September on the invitation extended by the President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa, during his official working visit to Japan in March 2013. This is the first visit to Sri Lanka by a Prime Minister of Japan in 24 years since 1990. Prime Minister Abe and President Rajapaksa held a summit meeting on 7 September. Recalling that Nobusuke Kishi, the then-Prime Minister of Japan and grandfather of Prime Minister Abe, paid the first official visit by a Japanese Prime Minister to Sri Lanka in 1957, the two leaders reaffirmed the strong bonds of friendship between the two countries through generations. The two leaders welcomed the important progress made on the initiatives laid out in the Joint Statement of March 2013 on ‘Strengthening Japan-Sri Lanka Partnership beyond the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations’ and decided to pursue further action towards this end. Recognising Sri Lanka’s enormous potential as a maritime nation in the Indian Ocean, the two leaders expressed their determination to elevate Sri Lanka-Japan relations, which have matured and diversified based on the long-standing friendship, 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. Shared values and policy dialogue Reaffirming the importance of shared values of democracy and the rule of law, the two leaders welcomed the high level constructive exchanges and the reciprocal visits by the Presidents of the Parliamentary Friendship Leagues between the two countries since March 2013. The two leaders reiterated their commitment and decided to promote the policy dialogue at the senior official level of the two Foreign Ministries to expand and consolidate the bilateral relationship. Enhancement of cooperation in the maritime field The two leaders noted the strategic geographical location of Sri Lanka, in the Indian Ocean sea lanes straddling Asia and Africa. Bearing in mind the importance of ensuring the freedom and safety of navigation in the region, the two leaders decided to establish the Sri Lanka-Japan Dialogue on Maritime Security and Oceanic Issues in order to effectively address the issues of mutual interest in oceanic issues. With a view to accelerating cooperation on maritime connectivity, the two leaders shared the intention to also promote cooperation in the maritime sector. President Rajapaksa expressed his expectation for cooperation in the fields of ports and harbour development and marine education. Prime Minister Abe expressed his gratitude to the Sri Lankan Government for the facilitation of the port calls by the vessels of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF). The two leaders expressed satisfaction with the steady progress in the promotion of cooperation and exchanges between the two defence establishments, as confirmed at the last summit meeting in March 2013. The two leaders decided to further promote cooperation and exchanges in the field of maritime security. The two leaders noted the extensive cooperation highlighted through exercises and the participation at symposiums by JMSDF and the Sri Lanka Navy. The two leaders welcomed the cooperation between coast guards in the fields of maritime law enforcement, Search and Rescue (SAR), disaster risk reduction and environment protection. President Rajapaksa expressed his appreciation for the dispatch of Japanese experts to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard and expressed hope for further assistance for the coast guard capacity improvement through the provision of patrol vessels. Prime Minister Abe reaffirmed the importance of capacity building on maritime safety in Sri Lanka, and stated that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) would conduct a survey with a view to providing the vessels. Steps towards national reconciliation in Sri Lanka Acknowledging that peace and stability are the desire of all people, the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of national reconciliation for the ever-lasting peace in Sri Lanka, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. Prime Minister Abe, while recognising the progress made so far, reiterated the importance of dialogue among all stakeholders for national reconciliation and further efforts to promote the implementation of the National Plan of Action on the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC). He also highly appreciated the specific actions such as holding the election of the Northern Provincial Council in September 2013, submitting to Parliament the Bill on Assistance to and Protection of Victims and Witnesses, finalising the report of the Joint Needs Assessment on resettled IDPs, and expanding the mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Missing Persons including the establishment of an Advisory Council comprising internationally recognised persons of eminence as domestic initiatives. In order to assist the Sri Lankan Government’s efforts to achieve national reconciliation, the two leaders recalled Japan’s initiatives such as the project for the training of officers in community development in conflict-affected areas and assistance for the trilingual policy, and welcomed recent progress such as the dispatch of experts for promoting agricultural production and marketing in less developed areas. Prime Minister Abe assured that Japan would continue to support Sri Lankan efforts towards national reconciliation. President Rajapaksa expressed his appreciation for Japan’s continuous and constructive engagement for peace-building, in addition to reconstruction of local infrastructure, promotion of livelihood of rural communities and capacity building for the community organisations, including the launch of a survey on improving capacity of the campus complex at the Faculty of Agriculture, Killinochchi, University of Jaffna. President Rajapaksa reiterated his Government’s ongoing engagement with the international community and the United Nations system. Prime Minister Abe welcomed the continuing engagement of the Government of Sri Lanka, in particular with the Human Rights Council and its 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 him to visit Sri Lanka during 2014. He also appreciated the scheduling of a meeting in Geneva with the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UNWGEID) later this month and to seek visit by UNWGEID to Sri Lanka at a mutually appropriate time. Prime Minister Abe appreciated the political leadership of President Rajapaksa towards national reconciliation. Sri Lanka’s progression to upper-middle income country status President Rajapaksa greatly appreciated Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA), which has been playing a significant role in the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka, over the past 60 years since Japan became a member of the Colombo Plan in 1954. President Rajapaksa further detailed his vision in promoting Sri Lanka’s economic and social development by utilising the advanced technologies of Japan. Prime Minister Abe expressed the willingness of the Government of Japan to continue to support the efforts by the Government of Sri Lanka to achieve its Mahinda Chinthana national development policy framework, progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals, and its commitment to the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda, as well as Sri Lanka’s goal of becoming an upper middle income country, free of poverty by 2020 in consideration of human security. 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 13.717 billion yen for the Digitalisation of Terrestrial Television Broadcasting Project which includes construction of antenna towers, transmitting station buildings, DBNO Administrative Building, Digital TV Centre and electrical equipment work. President Rajapaksa welcomed the implementation of a survey with a view to providing educational and documentary TV programs from the Government of Japan. The two leaders decided to advance bilateral cooperation in the field of information and communication technology (ICT), including capacity building to promote terrestrial digital television broadcasting, which will contribute towards enhancement of cooperation in areas such as disaster prevention, education, traffic control, health care, maritime safety, agriculture, tourism, and e-government. Recalling that both countries have experienced the devastation wrought by tsunami, the two leaders stressed the importance of building resilience through human resource development, educating people and infrastructure development in facing the challenges posed by such natural disasters. President Rajapaksa expressed his appreciation for Japan’s cooperation towards disaster risk reduction and expressed interest in sharing its experience and expertise. Prime Minister Abe announced the conducting of a survey with a view to introducing a meteorological radar system and disaster management information system in Sri Lanka, while expressing his intention to continue to extend Japan’s assistance including technical cooperation to Sri Lanka in disaster risk reduction, meteorological forecasting and landslide mitigation activities. Transport and infrastructure The two leaders welcomed the outcome of the study conducted by JICA on transport infrastructure for metropolitan areas including the introduction of suitable mass rapid transit system to mitigate the traffic congestion and eliminate transport bottlenecks. President Rajapaksa expressed his hope that positive outcomes of the JICA study could be incorporated into the Strategy 2020, which is being developed by the Government of Sri Lanka and that Japan’s advanced expertise and technologies could be further utilised in implementing concrete projects. Prime Minister Abe expressed his intention that Japan would continue to provide necessary assistance in this field. The two leaders welcomed the recent increase of tourists visiting Sri Lanka, including from Japan, with the advent of peace and stability in the country. In this regard, President Rajapaksa welcomed and appreciated Japan’s assistance for seamless implementation of the Bandaranaike International Airport construction project, in particular the progress of its Phase II. President Rajapaksa also expressed his appreciation for the support of the Government of Japan in infrastructure development in Sri Lanka including the construction of expressways and hydropower projects; and expressed his desire to further explore opportunities for collaboration. President Rajapaksa also appreciated the assistance of Japan towards the preservation of cultural heritage and the promotion of tourism. The two leaders noted the contribution of such cooperation towards enhancing people-to-people exchanges. The two leaders shared the view on the importance of utilising highly-efficient coal-fired power generation technologies in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In this regard, the two leaders welcomed the continuation of the feasibility study being conducted by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) for the construction of a new coal-fired power plant in Trincomalee, and shared the intention to explore the possibility to introduce Japanese industries clean coal technology in Sri Lanka. The two leaders welcomed the ongoing discussion between the Sri Lanka Parliament and the Japanese consortium for refurbishment work of the Parliamentary Complex of Sri Lanka. They expressed their expectation to see further progress in discussions regarding use of Japanese goods and services with appropriate financing. The two leaders welcomed the Japanese contribution so far to develop the medical sector in Sri Lanka and expressed their intention to explore the possibility of further cooperation including medical human resources development. Agricultural cooperation Recognising the importance of agriculture in national development and its contribution to uplift the living standards of the people of the two countries, the two leaders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation in Agriculture and Related Fields. Cooperation in the fields of science, technology and innovation The two leaders shared the view on the importance of science, technology and innovation in the development of the national economies. In this regard, the two leaders welcomed the signing of the Letter of Intent between the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan and the Ministry of Technology and Research of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on cooperation in the fields of science, technology and innovation. Enhancement of trade and investment The two leaders noted the consistent economic growth of Sri Lanka and shared the view that Sri Lanka has the potential to become a hub of the Indian Ocean Rim economic zone. The two leaders welcomed the presence of CEOs of renowned Japanese companies in the delegation led by Prime Minister Abe. The two leaders welcomed the holding of the business forum in fostering mutually beneficial business alliances between the private sectors of the two countries, and reaffirmed their will to promote and facilitate Japan’s investment to Sri Lanka. The two leaders appreciated the success of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) business mission in October 2013 and its business survey of Sri Lankan businesses and welcomed the IT industry related business development initiatives by JETRO. The two leaders welcomed the Memorandum of Cooperation on Vitalisation of Inter-governmental Economic Policy Dialogue which was signed between the two countries with a view to expanding bilateral trade, investment and economic engagement. The two leaders expressed their expectations for further investment in Sri Lanka by Japanese companies and welcomed recent investment by Japanese businesses to Sri Lanka in the sectors of finance and logistics. President Rajapaksa assured the promotion of a favourable business environment for Japanese businesses through appropriate follow up on the outcome of the Government-Private Joint Forum held in July 2014. The two leaders appreciated the role played by Japan Sri Lanka Technical and Cultural Association (JASTECA) which is an alumni association of the current Overseas Human Resources and Industry Development Association (HIDA) in introducing Japanese-style management skills and know-how in Sri Lanka. Investment in human resources In order to diversify the cooperative links between the two countries and to elevate the friendly relationship, the two leaders stressed the importance of promoting people-to-people exchanges. The two leaders acknowledged the importance of Japan’s substantial assistance to the Academy of Financial Studies (AFS) and public sector training through the Japanese Grant Aid for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) Program for the capacity building of public sector officials who contribute to the national development of Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Abe referred to his vision of creating a “society where women shine” and expressed his determination to contribute towards promoting Sri Lankan women’s empowerment. President Rajapaksa expressed his appreciation for Japan’s contribution to women’s empowerment and sought to partner with the initiatives to develop women entrepreneurship. The two leaders reiterated the importance of strengthening cooperation in the area of youth and sports. Prime Minister Abe expressed his intention to reinforce bilateral sports exchanges through the ‘Sport for Tomorrow’ program. Cooperation in regional and global affairs Prime Minister Abe briefed President Rajapaksa on his ‘Proactive Contribution to Peace’ and Japan’s Cabinet decision on the development of seamless security legislation, the concept of which was supported by the President as Japan’s own security policy. President Rajapaksa briefed Prime Minister Abe on his vision for the future of Sri Lanka as a hub in Asia. Prime Minister Abe acknowledged this vision, to which Japan could positively contribute. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight of the high seas, civil aviation safety, unimpeded lawful commerce, and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with principles of international law. The two leaders reiterated their call for North Korea to address the concerns of the international community, including the early settlement of the abductions issue. They also urged North Korea to refrain from any further provocative actions including ballistic missile launches, which could hinder the progress of the Six Party Talks, and to take concrete actions towards denuclearisation and other goals. President Rajapaksa welcomed Japan’s constructive engagement with the member countries of the South Asian Association for 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. 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. The two leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, irrespective of their perpetrators, origin and motivations. They emphasised 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 finalisation and adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations at the earliest. The two leaders reaffirmed further cooperation to tackle global issues including climate change, environmental issues and disaster risk reduction, recognising the importance of addressing these pressing global challenges including the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda, and cooperation towards a new international framework for climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be adopted at COP21. The two leaders also reaffirmed active participation in the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held in Sendai, Japan in March 2015 and their cooperation for the success of the conference. The two leaders reiterated their support for continued cooperation on issues of common interest and relevance in multilateral fora. The two leaders 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.