President at Shinzo Abe’s funeral | Sunday Observer

President at Shinzo Abe’s funeral

25 September, 2022

Seeking to revitalise Sri Lanka’s economy, whilst paying homage to the slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Ranil Wickremesinghe will attend his State Funeral in Tokyo on September 27, 2022.

The late Prime Minister Abe was a close friend of Sri Lanka and undertook a visit to this country in 2014, where he extended grant aid, offered concessionary ODA loans for infrastructure projects and development cooperation assistance for inclusive growth.

President Wickremesinghe’s visit takes place at a felicitous juncture, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Japan.

These bilateral ties have been built upon the legacy of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951, where former President late J.R. Jayewardene as the Finance Minister of the then Ceylon, advocated a free and equal Japan, and voluntarily waived the right to receive war reparations from that country, premised on the Teachings of the Buddha that “hatred ceases not by hatred but by love”.

This hand of friendship and trust has flourished into the two countries being strongly bound on shared religious and cultural values.

However, strong relationships may be, there are instances these bonds need to be reinvigorated. President Wickremesinghe during his visit to Tokyo envisages further strengthening the bilateral relations, to the high point his uncle late President Jayewardene initially established.

In this context amongst others, he will meet Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Cabinet Ministers, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and representatives of the private sector.

Ways and means will be explored by the President, to narrow the balance of trade which is in Japan’s favour, and seek to attract Japanese FDIs to Sri Lanka, which in the past has been lagging at approximately 2 percent of this country’s total foreign investments. President Wickremesinghe will also explore the possibility of resurrecting the Light Railway Transit project which was suddenly shelved by Sri Lanka early last year.

In the same manner, stock would be taken on the Colombo Port West Container Terminal development and the LNG power plant project which have faced some challenges in their implementation.

In addition, 12 JICA projects have been suspended until the IMF Road Map is put in place.

Japan being an important development partner accounting for approximately 14 percent of total multilateral and bilateral aid flows, and also a major international creditor to Sri Lanka, President Wickremesinghe will have discussions on Sri Lanka’s pursuit of the IMF process, and especially on Tokyo’s initiative to coordinate the convening of the Conference of this segment of countries.

It is noteworthy that for this year alone, Japan has magnanimously accorded emergency humanitarian grant aid in two phases, for food nutrition, health and sanitation amounting to US$ 6.5 million, which is being disbursed through the WFP, UNICEF and International Federation of Red Cross.

This visit will also afford President Wickremesinghe the opportunity of meeting other world leaders, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who would be attending the State Funeral in Tokyo.

Subsequently President Wickremesinghe who is also the Minister of Finance, is scheduled to travel to Manila, Philippines, to Chair the 55th ADB Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors on September 29, 2022.

This year’s meeting is being held at a time of geopolitical uncertainty and new Covid-19 outbreaks, requiring innovative ideas and thinking, in addressing the related matters. For this purpose there will be discussions on a range of burning issues including sustainable green growth, managing Asian energy transition, re-imagining tourism, gender equality in green transition, climate change and sustainable development goals, climate finance and the role of the private sector in the region’s recovery. Discussions on these issues will take place in seminars and related events during the Annual Meeting.

President Wickremesinghe is scheduled to have discussions with the President of the ADB regarding further assistance to Sri Lanka in addressing the current unprecedented economic downturn in the country.

President Wickremesinghe will meet President Bongbong Marcos of the Philippines for discussions on issues of bilateral interests.

President Marcos was elected to this highest office in June this year. The Philippines being a member of the UN Human Rights Council, has been assisting Sri Lanka in Geneva.