Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, accompanied by a high-profile delegation, called on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (13).
Conveying his wishes to the President on his recent election victory, Mr. Motegi called Sri Lanka a “special friend” of Japan.
Mr. Motegi, who extended an invitation to President Rajapaksa to visit Japan, said that Japan will be hosting an international conference titled ‘Friends of Asia’ in May next year. He added that it would be an appropriate time for President Rajapaksa’s visit to Japan. The President has been in agreement.
Sri Lanka and Japan have reiterated their commitment to identifying key areas of cooperation and strengthening of bilateral relations in important areas of economic development. These key areas include information and communication technology, port infrastructure development, expressways, agriculture, digitalization of television transmission, prevention of disasters and security cooperation.
The Japanese Foreign Minister expressed his hopes of furthering the bilateral relations of the two countries under the leadership of President Rajapaksa. He added that Japan intends to establish a bilateral methodology to oversee the successful implementation of mutually agreed development projects with Sri Lanka. “This will be helpful to introduce high-tech and state of the art Japanese companies to Sri Lanka,” he continued.
“Our economy is small, but we have a skilled, educated and talented workforce,” President Rajapaksa told the Japanese Foreign Minister, emphasizing his intention to build a labor-centered economy equipped with advanced technology. He called for Japan’s assistance in this regard. The President further mentioned that Sri Lanka is also open for investments from regional countries such as China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and Singapore.
Mr. Motegi discussed regional cooperation with the President and reiterated Japan’s commitment towards the concept of free and open Indo-Pacific region. He mentioned that regional cooperation prioritizes security, safety and stability. In response, President Rajapaksa has stated that the Indian Ocean must remain a peaceful area without conflicts.
Speaking further, President Rajapaksa has told the Japanese Foreign Minister that Sri Lanka does not want to entangle itself in the conflicts of world powers. He added that Sri Lanka expects to maintain friendly relations with foreign countries but firmly rejects their dominance.
In response, the Japanese Foreign Minister emphasized that his country will uphold peace, stability and reconciliation of all ethnicities in Sri Lanka.