"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Statement by H.E. Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan At the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka

[Place] Tokyo
[Date] June 09, 2003
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

Honorable Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,

Co-chairs of the Tokyo Conference,

Representatives of the countries and international organizations,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me a great pleasure to welcome all of you today in convening the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka.

I had the privilege of visiting Sri Lanka this January. There I entered the conflict-torn area in the North. I felt the acute suffering and misery inflicted on the people due to the ravages of the twenty-year civil war and witnessed several sites of the devastation across the land. I could see many houses, left in ruins, with bullet holes in their walls.

At the same time, I sensed that expectations of the bright future were growing among the people, thanks to the progress made up to then in the peace process skillfully facilitated by the Government of Norway. I am convinced that the international community should strongly support such hopes and aspirations of the people in Sri Lanka so as to assist them in achieving a lasting peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Japan and Sri Lanka, as fellow Asian countries, have maintained close and traditional ties of friendship for many years. Japan has been a top donor to Sri Lanka, and has made substantial contributions to the social and economic development of that country. The cumulative amount of ODA that Japan has extended since the middle of the 1960's amounts to more than three billion US dollars. Japan currently provides nearly half of all ODA to Sri Lanka. Our support of the peace process in Sri Lanka springs from this strong and traditional friendship.

Japan has been promoting the "consolidation of peace" initiative. This initiative signifies a seamless effort, from diplomatic efforts towards conflict resolution up to reconstruction and development, in the wake of the rampant religious and ethnic conflict there. This initiative has already achieved significant results in East Timor and Afghanistan. Our active contribution to the Sri Lankan peace process is in line with this initiative. Mr. Yasushi Akashi, Representative of the Government of Japan, has visited Sri Lanka four times since last November and has met with leaders of both the Government and the LTTE. He has also paid frequent visits to the North and East as well as to the South of Sri Lanka, and is thoroughly familiar with the actual situation in these regions. Exchanges of VIPs between Japan and Sri Lanka have also been promoted, including the visit by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe himself to Japan last December and my visit to Sri Lanka this January. This March Japan hosted the sixth session of the peace talks in Hakone. At the G8 Foreign Ministers' meeting last month, I emphasized the importance of the consolidation of the G8 in supporting the Sri Lankan peace process with a view to promoting further positive progress in this process. Today, it is a great honor for the Government of Japan to host the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is regrettable for all of us that the LTTE has chosen to absent itself today. If the Conference were not held, however, it would mean an irreparable loss to the long-suffering people of Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is my great pleasure to convene the Conference as scheduled with the participation of many countries, international organizations, and members of the civil society and the private sector.

A number of people have made notable efforts to prepare this conference. I particularly wish to thank the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the United Nations system for conducting the "Needs Assessment" on the North and East, in cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. I am also deeply grateful to the US Government, particularly to Deputy Secretary of State Mr. Richard Armitage, for holding a seminar on Sri Lanka in Washington, DC this April.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The international community should promote assistance to support the Sri Lankan people in achieving a lasting peace through their own efforts. On the other hand, both parties of the peace talks must recognize that it is essential for them to make their utmost efforts towards the progress of the peace process. I am pleased to announce that Japan is prepared to extend up to one billion US dollars to Sri Lanka over the next three years, while reviewing and monitoring carefully the progress made in the ongoing peace process. This announcement is based on the study of the Conference documents, i.e. the "Needs Assessment" on the North and East, the "Regaining Sri Lanka" issued by the Government of Sri Lanka, and the bridging document which links the aforementioned two documents. Japan is offering maximum measures of assistance with a view to supporting the peace process in Sri Lanka. It is required that Sri Lanka strengthen its capacity to receive assistance so as to ensure the smooth implementation of assistance provided by the international community including Japan.

In the implementation of the assistance to Sri Lanka by Japan as well as the international community, the following principles need to be taken into full account. In this regard, I certainly welcome the initiative taken by the prime minister just as he announced.

First, with a view to promoting efforts by both parties to achieve a durable peace, the implementation of the assistance by the international community must be closely inter-linked to substantial parallel progress in the peace process. Neither party should assume that the assistance by the international community would be provided automatically to them. The international community must review and monitor closely the progress of the peace process. Japan is ready to contribute to this reviewing and monitoring in cooperation with other co-chairs as well as other donor, as appropriate.

Second, to maintain strong support from the Sri Lankan people for the peace process, it is essential to enable them to enjoy the dividends of peace, regardless of their community or ethnicity. To that end, the international community should take into full account the delicate ethnic and geographical balance in that country, in implementing its assistance.

Third, it is urgent to implement humanitarian assistance to the war-torn North and East. Japan has already implemented assistance amounting to more than twenty five million US dollars, including a relief project for internally displaced persons, a project for rehabilitation of the Kilinochchi District Hospital whose construction will start this month, and a project for a mobile clinic in the North conducted by a Japanese NGO. Japan will continue implement such forms of assistance. Japan is also actively implementing its assistance for demining, which is a prerequisite for the smooth implementation of humanitarian and reconstruction assistance. Japan hopes that Sri Lanka will accede to the Mine Ban Convention as soon as possible.

Fourth, it is important to steadily implement medium- to longer-term assistance, in view of the nation-building of all of Sri Lanka and widespread social and economic development there. In this respect, this March our Government decided to provide a two-hundred-eighty-million- US-dollar yen loan for a number of projects, such as a small-scale infrastructure rehabilitation and upgrading project in rural areas. Japan will continue to implement such forms of assistance. In implementing our assistance, Japan will ensure that the impacts on society and the environment are taken into full consideration.

Fifth, donor countries and international organizations alone are not able to conduct their assistance effectively. Close coordination with members of the civil society and the private sector is of paramount importance. In my view, it is one of the most significant achievements of the Tokyo Conference that we have representatives in attendance from both the civil society and the private sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through the six sessions of the ongoing peace talks so far, some significant progress has been made. However, many other issues must be resolved to achieve a durable peace. Japan urges the LTTE, which is, absent from this Conference to return to the peace process as soon as possible. Japan also hopes that, thanks to ardent efforts by both parties, this process will make further substantial progress.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sri Lanka is a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, teeming with tremendous potential. However, too much blood and too many tears have been shed during the destructive civil war that has lasted for 20 years. I firmly believe that, by combining serious and self-reliant efforts by both negotiating parties coupled with the international community's strong and unified support, a day will come in the near future when a durable peace is achieved in Sri Lanka and this island will shine again as "a jewel on the Indian Ocean." When such a day comes, the international community will look to Sri Lanka forever as a role model of the peaceful resolution of an ethnic conflict and the end of terrorist activities.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.