The inaugural Sri Lanka-Japan Dialogue on Maritime Security, Safety and Oceanic Issues was held at the Ministry of Defence on Wednesday. This Dialogue was a result of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to Japan last year and an outcome of the Joint Declaration on a Comprehensive Partnership between Sri Lanka and Japan concluded during the visit.
The two sides had an exchange of views on a range of subjects including the situation in the Indo Pacific Ocean Region; cooperation in the areas of Maritime Security and Safety; regional multilateral initiatives including activities within the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the
Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), and partnership between the two countries as maritime nations.
In his opening remarks at the meeting, Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Secretary/Ministry of Defence referred to the longstanding friendly relations between the two countries and the assistance extended by Japan for the development of Sri Lanka and stated that the relationship
was one that was characterized by "genuine affection". He also expressed appreciation for the commitments made to extend cooperation and contribute to the capacity building on maritime safety in fields such as maritime law enforcement, Search and Rescue (SAR), mitigation of disaster risks and environment protection, including the survey conducted in view of providing patrol vessels. Both sides agreed that intensifying exchanges will pave the way to strengthen the cooperation on maritime security and also to develop the mutual understanding between the two countries.
Japanese Ambassador Kenichi Suganuma said that during the tenure of President Maithirpala Sirisena, Japan- Sri Lanka relations has been ushered into a new era. This has been further consolidated by the establishment of a Comprehensive Partnership between the two countries during the visit of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, he said.
The Ambassador referred to the strategically important geopolitical location of Sri Lanka overlooking the main Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) in the Indian Ocean. He said that securing the freedom of navigation and safety of sea routes is a major concern for Japan and added that they wish to see the establishment of an open, stable ocean, where the rule of law is dominated. The Ambassador highlighted the importance of strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries based on "shared values".
The meeting was co-chaired by Takashi Ariyoshi, Director/Southwest Asia Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and S Hettiarachchi, Additional Secretary (Defence) from the Defence Ministry of Sri Lanka. Representatives from the Japanese side included officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Coast Guard and the Embassy in Colombo.
The representatives from the Sri Lanka side included Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard Department, Marine Environment Protection Authority and the Director General, Merchant Shipping.