Japan-Sri Lanka Foreign Ministers meeting highlights deepening bilateral relations

Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Kamikawa Yoko meets Sri Lanka's Minister of Foreign Affairs, M.U.M. Ali Sabry

Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Kamikawa Yoko, held a bilateral meeting and working dinner with Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, M.U.M. Ali Sabry, on Tuesday (July 2).

Warm Welcomes and Strong Partnerships

Minister Kamikawa welcomed Minister Sabry to Japan, expressing gratitude for the warm reception in Colombo during her visit in May. Both ministers highlighted the significance of their mutual visits within a short span, indicating strengthened bilateral relations.

Minister Sabry appreciated Japan’s longstanding support, especially in debt restructuring after Sri Lanka’s recent economic crisis. He also shared his personal joy in revisiting Japan after 28 years, having first visited as part of the “Ship for World Youth” program.

Debt Restructuring and Economic Development

Minister Kamikawa commended the agreement reached between the Official Creditor Committee and Sri Lanka on the debt restructuring MOU. She emphasized the importance of an early signing of the MOU and transparent implementation with other creditors.

Japan aims to resume yen loans for existing projects promptly after the MOU’s signing and confirmation of Sri Lanka’s commitment to a bilateral agreement. Minister Sabry provided updates on the signing process and future debt restructuring plans, assuring swift action to resume yen loans.

National Reconciliation and Investment Environment

Minister Kamikawa praised Sri Lanka’s progress in national reconciliation, which she noted could enhance the investment environment for foreign businesses, including Japanese companies. Minister Sabry detailed efforts in decentralizing power and the President’s land restitution project, expressing gratitude for Japan’s cooperation.

Maritime Cooperation and Strategic Importance

Given Sri Lanka’s strategic location on the sea lane between Africa and the Pacific, Minister Kamikawa expressed Japan’s intent to strengthen maritime cooperation. Minister Sabry affirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to peace and stability in the Indian Ocean, highlighting the country’s collaborative stance with various nations.

Human Resource Development and People-to-People Exchanges

Minister Kamikawa expressed hope that programs like the “Ship for World Youth” and the new Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship (JDS) will cultivate talented individuals to foster bilateral ties. Both ministers agreed on the importance of active people-to-people exchanges as a foundation for their relationship.

Regional and Global Issues

The ministers had a candid exchange on regional affairs, including situations in East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Ukraine, agreeing to maintain close communication. On global issues, they discussed disarmament, non-proliferation, and Minister Sabry’s planned visit to Hiroshima.

Minister Kamikawa expressed Japan’s desire to collaborate with Sri Lanka towards a world without nuclear weapons and the early adoption of the Additional Protocol.

Women, Peace, and Security (WPS)

Minister Sabry discussed the challenges and progress related to women’s social advancement in Sri Lanka and expressed a wish to strengthen cooperation with Minister Kamikawa, a “champion” of WPS. Both ministers also agreed to deepen cooperation on global issues, including UN reforms and bridging the gap between the “Global South” and the “Global North”.