ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has told Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi that his government is keen to restart Japan-funded projects cancelled by the previous administration, while Minister Hayashi has expressed his country’s willingness to take a leading role in Sri Lanka’s negotiations with her creditors.
The president’s media division (PMD) said in a statement Tuesday September 27 morning that ,at a meeting held in Tokyo, Minister Hayashi had welcomed Sri Lanka’s progress with a proposed International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal and had also expressed an interest in exploring investment opportunities in renewable energy.
“President Wickremesinghe expressed regret over the breakdown of relations between Japan and Sri Lanka following the cancellation of several investment projects by the former government. The president stressed that he was keen to restart those projects,” the PMD statement said.
Sri Lanka’s administration under ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa controversially scrapped a light rail transit project financed by Japan claiming that it was too expensive. His administration’s cancellation of a trilateral deal with India and Japan to develop the Eastern Container Terminal (ECT) of the Colombo Port did not help matters.
The island nation’s relations with Japan, a long-time ally, has soured over the last few years and Wickremesinghe has been eager to repair the damage ever since he was sworn in as prime minister in May this year.
At the meeting in Tokyo, Wickremesinghe, now Sri Lanka’s eighth executive president following Rajapaka’s exit, had also indicated that the government was interested in Japan investing in Sri Lanka’s renewable energy projects.
According to the statement, Minister Hayashi had said Japan has increased its commitment to renewable energy and would be willing to explore future investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
Japan will also begin a proposed skilled worker examination in January 2023 for Sri Lankan migrant workers, the statement quoted Hayashi as saying.
President Wickremesinghe meanwhile has expressed the government’s willingness to support both Japan’s and India’s campaign to become permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
“The foreign minister welcomed the news, stressing that Asia required greater representation on the world stage,” the statement said. (Colombo/Sep27/2022)