Japan not concerned about mechanism to investigate war crimes allegations

* Will assist Sri Lanka achieve reconciliation, peace

by Zacki Jabbar

Admitting that ascertaining the truth about allegations pertaining to the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka would be a difficult process, Japan says it would assist in the process regardless of the mechanism to be adopted.

Japanese Ambassador Kenichi Suganuma, addressing a news conference in Colombo on Tuesday, to announce further financial assistance of USD 801,311 for mine clearance operations in the North of Sri Lanka in association with Britains HALO Trust, said that his country would continue to support Sri Lanka in every conceivable manner.

In answer to a question, the envoy observed that various views had been expressed on the last stages of the war, but Japan looked at the issue as a friend willing to assist in whatever manner possible to bring about reconciliation among the various communities, peace and harmony.

"It does not matter to us what mechanism the Sri Lankan government adopts in finding out the truth about issues that concern its very own people; we are willing to assist if requested," Suganuma emphasised.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during his official visit to Japan last week briefed the Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe on his government’s efforts to promote good governance and democracy and its commitment towards national reconciliation and peacebuilding.

Abe welcoming the Sri Lankan government’s efforts to address urgent social and economic issues of conflict affected communities, especially in the Northern and Eastern Provinces, recalled that Yasushi Akashi, Japan’s Representative on Peacebuilding, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction in Sri Lanka, had contributed towards the process of conflict resolution and rehabilitation.

Both leaders agreed on the need to work together with the international community to initiate a process to support Sri Lanka in its effort towards rehabilitation and improvement of social and economic conditions of the conflict affected communities.

The Japanese government had, Abe said, played a vital role in successfully organizing the Tokyo Conference on Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka in 2003.

Ambassador Suganuma noted that since 2003, his country had provided a total of USD 27.7 million for mine clearing operations here.

Recently the US granted USD 1.7 million for demining operations.

Programme Manager of HALO Trust, Damian O’Brien said that with the total funding received, they would have cleared the 200,000th mine by early next year.

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