Japan to Provide Sri Lanka with Sonar-Equipped Vessel; Showing Support for Country’s Development

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa speaks to reporters in Capri, southern Italy, on April 19.

The Japanese government has finalized a plan to provide Sri Lanka with a vessel equipped with underwater sonar for detecting the location of other vessels in order to improve the country’s oceanographic survey capabilities, according to Japanese government sources.

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa was expected to inform Sri Lanka of the decision during a foreign ministerial meeting to be held in the country Saturday. The move is aimed at reining in China, which has been continuing its aggressive maritime expansion.

The Japanese government will provide Sri Lanka with a vessel and sonar system worth about ¥1 billion in total. Kamikawa was expected to emphasize Japan’s position on realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific and demonstrate support for Sri Lanka, which sits in a strategic position along sea lanes.

China has been making advances into the Indian Ocean in recent years. According to a senior Japanese government official, Chinese oceanographic research vessels have been actively conducting surveys in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, and Colombo considers the move problematic.

With this latest grant, Japan will support Sri Lanka in conducting oceanographic surveys as a countermeasure.

Kamikawa also was expected to convey the Japanese government’s policy to resume Japanese yen-loan-financed projects as soon as possible if a final agreement was reached during the meeting on debt restructuring for Sri Lanka, which has fallen into economic crisis.

Since Sri Lanka and a group of creditors, chaired jointly by Japan, India and France, have reached a basic agreement on main debt restructuring conditions, Japan hopes to push for an early final agreement.