COLOMBO — Amid China’s growing assertiveness, Japan has been increasing its focus on Sri Lanka by playing a proactive role in helping develop the island’s maritime capabilities. In June, the Japanese Government granted 1.8 billion Japanese Yen to Sri Lanka to implement the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement project.
The project, which aims to contribute toward the improvement of maritime safety capability of the Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG), also allows Sri Lanka to procure two petrol vessels to ensure safe navigation of vessels, anti-piracy and transnational crime countermeasures and prevention of destruction of marine environment and resources. The agreement, which was signed in Colombo, also made way for Japan to provide training for Sri Lanka’s coast guard personnel.
The project deal was signed just a month after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underscored the “importance of maintaining the freedom of the high seas and maritime order based on the rule of law” at a meeting with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on the sidelines of the G7 summit held in Nagoya, Japan.
Abe’s declaration comes amid China’s increasing maritime initiatives in the South Asian region, including in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which have sparked concern among countries such as Japan and India. Both Japan and China are among Sri Lanka’s main foreign funders, and Colombo, over the years, has tried to strike a balance between the two countries.
While Japan is showing more interest in enhancing maritime cooperation with Sri Lanka, over 55 port calls have been made since 2009 by Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) and the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG) ships.
Full article: Japan reinforces maritime security ties with Sri Lanka to counter China (Asia Times)