Japan’s defense minister to visit Sri Lanka next week

Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will commence a visit to India and Sri Lanka from Sunday to discuss military cooperation with the two South Asian countries, Japanese Defense Ministry has said on Friday.

The visit to India and Sri Lanka, which is located near sea lanes that are vital to transporting crude oil from the Middle East to East Asia, next week is seen as an effort to counter China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean, according to the Japanese daily The Mainichi.

In Sri Lanka, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera is expected to meet President Maithripala Sirisena, who is also the defense minister, to discuss further Japan assistance to Sri Lanka’s navy.

Minister Onodera will also visit the strategically located Hambantota port, operated by a Chinese firm.

“Japan is striving to bolster cooperation with Asian and African countries based on the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” promoted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and endorsed by the United States, in an effort to counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China,” the report said.

Courtesy: Colombo Page