Japan We’re Sorry

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Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Nimal Siripala de Silva while regretting the cancellation of Japanese projects, urged Japanese Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mizukoshi Hideaki, to invite investors to establish the proposed Trincomalee Industrial Zone.

The Minister met Ambassador Hideaki last week and regretted the cancellation of important development projects signed between Japan and Sri Lanka due to previous political decisions and mentioned that Japan has always assisted in development for closer political and socio-economic ties between the two countries, for which Sri Lanka is grateful to the people of Japan who have always come forward.

The Sri Lankan Government shelved the Japan-funded Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in 2020 and a major delay was shown in the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) expansion project also funded by Japan. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe too had said he is holding discussions with Japan to regain their confidence and secure their support and rebuild broken ties.

Minister de Silva recalled the immense assistance extended by the Japanese Government for the Peradeniya Children’s Hospital, Polonnaruwa General Hospital and many other health sector development projects during his tenure as the Minister of Health. 

He also explained the delay of the Phase II BIA expansion project. A special report on the matter was handed over to the Japanese Ambassador. In particular, the Minister said that the Sri Lankan media has repeatedly raised the issue accusing him as the Subject Minister and the Government on delays in the project.

The Japanese Ambassador said he had been informed that project work had been delayed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic and Sri Lanka’s fuel crisis and pointed out that several other foreign companies engaged in the construction industry in Sri Lanka have also faced the situation.

The Ambassador expressed his confidence to resolve the matter soon and urged the Minister to sustain strong ties and credibility secured and continued between the two nations.

Mentioning that 65 per cent of the payments for the Phase II BIA expansion project are being done using Japanese Yen, the Minister inquired if the Government could facilitate to open a discussion with the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation if such foreign exchange could be used to purchase fuel required for construction work from foreign exporters.

The Minister also requested a meeting with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA), Taisai Corporation Japan that has undertaken the project and the Airport and Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) (Pvt) Limited with the presence of Japanese Ambassador, the Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation and staffs to discuss the issues on the Phase II constructions at BIA. First Secretary of the Japanese Embassy – Chiharu Hoshiai, Japan Deputy Head of Mission –  Katsuki Kotaro were also present at the meeting.

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

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