Japan seeks closer maritime defense links with Sri Lanka amid China factor
ECONOMYNEXT – Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onedera has called for closer maritime defence co-operation during talks with President Maithripala Sirisena in his first visit to the India Ocean island where China already runs a joint venture port, a statment said.
President Sirisena is also the defense minister of Sri Lanka.
Talks on Tuesday involved strengthening defence links and co-operation.
"There will be special focus on strenthening maritime defence co-operation," a statement from te President’s office said.
Japan had already offered to provide two coast guard vessels to Sri Lanka.
Minister Itsunori Onedera will visit Hambantota Port, in Southern Sri Lanka which is managed by a China-Sri Lanka joint venture.
He will also visit Trincomalee port in the East, which Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Japan and India has been invited to develop.
Japan has called for keeping sea lanes in the Indian Ocean open.
Western powers and Japan has made it clear the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation in the India Ocean amid greater Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka.
China has tried to restrict sea and air navigation in the South China Sea and has also used Cambodia to counter action by the Association of South East Asian Nations to action.
There has been warning to for Sri Lanka to be careful not to become a so-called ‘vassal state’ of China. (Colombo/Aug21/2018)