SL needs skills development, not financial assistance
- Hiroyuki Arai
Fields include housing, fishing, health care, education and tourism

Sri Lanka needs skills development and not financial assistance, says Japan Renaissance Party Secretary-General and House of Councillors member Hiroyuki Arai.

Hiroyuki, who was in Colombo recently, told The Island that the purpose of his visit was to help Sri Lanka in its post-war recovery process, by providing expertise in skills development.

Asked how he can assist while being a member of the opposition, Hiroyuki said opposition parliamentarians are allowed to submit their proposals directly to the Japanese legislature. Once approved, the government has to act on it.

Stressing on the importance of harmonising all communities, he observed that it was a prerequisite for economic development in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country such as Sri Lanka.

"What Sri Lanka needs is skills development. Not financial assistance. I am here to study, how Japan can help in your post-war recovery process. There are about 250,000 war refugees in the North. They need, housing, infrastructure development and jobs," Hiroyuki said.

"We have a 62-year-old partnership and are ever grateful for the speech made in support of Japan, by former President J. R. Jayawardene at the San Francisco Peace Conference."

Citing fishing as an example, he said Sri Lanka does not have the necessary technology to separate the big and small fish that are caught. "So,we can bring one of our fully equipped fishing ships to Colombo and train your fisherman to use its advanced features."

Questioned if the ship would be given to Sri Lanka on completion of training, Hiroyuki replied that it could be arranged through a joint venture, established between Japanese and Sri Lankan companies.

"Another area where we want to assist in, is in health care.Today, I observed the manner in which your patients,are taken to hospital. Here,too skills development can be provided. There is a big gap between the number of medical personnel and ambulances in Sri Lanka. Ambulances can be gifted to bridge the difference."

Speaking regretfully, he said Sri Lankan drivers were indisciplined and skills development could be imparted in this respect as well.

Co-operation can be extended to the fields of education and tourism also. This would include teaching Japanese to Sri Lankans who are interested in participating in University Exchange Programmes and employment in Japan.

With regard to tourism,the Japanese people will be encouraged to visit historical and archaeological sites in Sri Lanka, Hiroyuki said.

Matsuhita, a member of the visiting JRP delegation, said that they do not want to force Sri Lanka to follow Japan.

"We are trying to help in a manner,that you can be independent in the future.Look at us,like a parent who is assisting a child develop."

Sri Lanka‚Äôs Honorary Consul to Japan, Sunil Gamage, said the JRP delegation, had done a needs assessment study before leaving for Japan.

They are due to return on a follow-up visit shortly.

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