Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wound up his official tour to Japan yesterday, with Japanese Prime Minster, Shinzo Abe promising development assistance to Sri Lanka and in return Sri Lanka would ensure that her ports, after it is developed, would remain open to all. Issuing a final joint statement at the Japanese Prime Minister’s office, the two Prime Ministers, said that in principle they agreed that the Indo-Pacific Oceans needed to be ‘free and open’, including their ports.
Wickremesinghe in his speeches earlier this week had also invited Japan to be part of the Trincomalee harbour development project along with India while also inviting Japanese private firms to bid for the new terminal at the Colombo Port - a move seen to balance present Chinese investments in the Ports of Colombo Hambantota.
On Wickremesinghe’s ninth visit to Japan, Abe said they “exchanged candid views on security, maritime cooperation, economy and economic cooperation”.
He explained that while the era of Indo-Pacific was being ushered in, “True regional prosperity could not come to being without the realization of a free and open Indo-pacific”.
“To make this happen it is indispensable for Sri Lanka to achieve Sustainable growth as a hub and develop ports that are open to all”, further stated Abe and added, “The Prime Minister and I were in complete agreement with such concepts”.
Thus Abe said Japan would aid Sri Lanka in developing ‘quality infrastructure’ and be a partner for sustainable growth in Sri Lanka.
The Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Japan, Dammika Ganganath Disanayake and Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Kenichi Syganuma exchanged notes on: the loan for rural infrastructure development, loan for the further expansion of the Kalu Ganga water project and a grant aid for economic and social development. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that as “island nations we must trade with everyone and that there should be a stable maritime order in the world”.
He said that like Abe, he too agreed on the freedom of navigation of the seas and that there should not be any ‘imbalances in the Indian Ocean’.
“Stability should be agreed to by all of us and free commerce and transparent economic cooperation is the basis of going forward and basis of friendship between two countries”.
“The stability of the regions depend on its economic prosperity and social development,”, he added.
Wickremesinghe further reiterated that all the ports developed in Sri Lanka would only be used for commercial activities and not for any military purposes.