Japan-Sri Lanka Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (Overview)
July 29, 2010
On July 29 (Thu) from 6:40 P.M. to 9:20 P.M., Mr. Katsuya Okada, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held talks and a banquet at the Iikura Guesthouse with Honourable Prof. G.L. Peiris, Minister of External Affairs, and Honourable Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, who are visiting Japan. Ms. Chinami Nishimura, Parliamentary Vice- Minister for Foreign Affairs also participated in the meeting. The overview is as follows.
- Minister Okada delivered a welcome address and, noting that Sri Lanka has been working on the establishment of peace and nation building since the conclusion of the civil war in May 2009 amidst various difficulties that have emerged since then, expressed his intention to discuss various issues accompanying these efforts. Minister Peiris said that as Japan had been Sri Lanka’s solid friend for decades, both in good times and bad times, Sri Lanka intends to further deepen its relationship with Japan as it endeavors toward national development and unification from the ashes of conflict.
- Minister Peiris explained the efforts by the government of Sri Lanka since the end of the civil war in May 2009 on the resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDP), national reconciliation, human rights issues, and others. In particular, he noted that the IDP has now decreased to 35,000, compared to about 300,000 last year, as a result of robust efforts in tandem with difficult mine-clearing operations.
In this relation, Minister Okada pointed out the importance for the Sri Lanka government to fulfill accountability on human rights issues, and suggested tackling the issues in cooperation with the United Nations. In response, Minister Peiris explained Sri Lanka’s plan to work toward achieving the broad-based targets of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) established within the country, and expressed its intention to improve the situation, noting that it has held dialogue with the UN on a constant basis.
- Further to this, Minister Okada requested the improvement of access to the Northern Province, as well as integration and streamlining of bureaucratic procedures for Japanese NGOs, etc., engaged in the IDP assistance. In this relation, Minister Rajapaksa and Minister Peiris expressed their intention to meet this request, saying that permission would be issued without delay to the recommended NGOs, and that the Sri Lankan Embassy in Tokyo will be authorized to promptly issue visas for Japanese NGOs, so as to speed up the procedure.
- Minister Okada also proposed that allowing Japanese and other foreign media to report on the northern and eastern regions might be a necessary step for the international community to have deeper understanding about the situation of Sri Lanka today. Minister Peiris and Minister Rajapaksa each responded in agreement to Minister Okada that, while noting the need to keep a certain level of privacy as the people are rebuilding their life after long years of suffering, Sri Lanka would welcome Japanese media to enter the country, and endorse the direction suggested by Minister Okada.
- Minister Okada thanked the people of Sri Lanka for the gift of two elephants, which will be presented to the people of Japan. There was also a request from Minister Peiris for Minister Okada to visit Sri Lanka. Other topics of discussion included tourism in Sri Lanka, presence of Japanese companies in Sri Lanka, and cultural assets of the two countries, including Buddhism.
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