Sri Lanka and Japan this week agreed to strengthen defence cooperation between the countries and emphasised the importance of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
These and other issues were discussed when Japanese Defence Minister Kishi Nobuo held a video teleconference with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is also the Minister of Defence.
Both sides exchanged views on bilateral defence cooperation and exchanges and welcomed the steady progress being made in a broad range of areas, including naval cooperation and aerial cooperation.
In this context, both sides welcomed the bilateral exercise ‘JA-LAN EX’, which was successfully conducted in September 2020, Maritime Self-Defence Force vessel’s first participation in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise hosted by Sri Lanka and the US, which took place last week, as well as the successful delivery of the online Air Rescue seminar in May 2021.
Both sides confirmed that they would share knowledge and lessons learned from infectious disease control measures taken by the defence authorities.
Furthermore, they concurred that Japan and Sri Lanka would further promote bilateral defence cooperation and exchanges based on the Memorandum on Defence Cooperation and Exchanges signed in 2019.
The two countries also exchanged views on the recent regional security issues, including the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
In this context, Minister Kishi expressed strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion in the East and South China Seas. Both sides affirmed that they would send a clear message about the importance of free, open, and rules-based maritime order.
They also concurred in maintaining close communication between respective defence authorities and proactively promoting defence cooperation and exchanges to uphold and reinforce a free and open Indo-Pacific.