Japan aid flows amid ‘renewed optimism’

[TamilNet, Sunday, 10 June 2007, 11:02 GMT]
Japan has no immediate plans to follow the lead of several other donor countries and freeze aid to Sri Lanka, the country’s Special Peace Envoy Yasushi Akashi was quoted as saying at the end of his four-day visit to the island Saturday. The envoy said whilst he had been depressed when he arrived Tuesday, he was leaving Sri Lanka with renewed hope and optimism that the Sri Lankan government is committed to a political solution and to upholding the rule of law, The Nation newspaper reported.

Mr. Akashi Yasushi at Batticaloa District Secretariat [Photo: TamilNet]

Last Thursday, when Mr. Akashi and visited Batticaloa to meet with the civil officials at the District Secretariat, Eastern Military Commander of the Sri Lankan Forces, Major General Parakrama Pannipitiya, also joined the meeting with STF and Police officials. Additional GA of Batticaloa District K. Mahesan briefed the Japanese Peace Envoy on the situation of Internally Displaced People in the district. Japanese Ambassador Kiyoshi Araki accompanied the Japanese envoy.

Officials at GA's office said they were unable to speak freely with the Japanese Envoy due to the presence of Sri Lankan military officials. Mr. Akashi was taken to Vaakarai by the military officials.

Concluding his visit to Sri Lanka, on Saturday, Akashi said Japan would not cut aid because “Our help is for victims of the conflict. People should not be punished for actions or policies of their leaders.”

Akashi said while people in the ‘higher echelons’ of Sri Lanka’s government are aware of the sacrosanct principles of human rights and democracy, it is highly doubtful whether they are applied by lower rankers.

The Japanese Peace Envoy did not meet with LTTE leaders in his four day visit to the island.

“The intense fighting and the need to promote a political solution through the APRC prevented me from visiting LTTE areas this time,” he said, referring to the All Party Representative Committee.

The former UN diplomat also told reporters that Japan’s consideration of a proscription of the LTTE or a freezing of the organisation’s assets was still largely theoretical, since there were only 10,000 people of Sri Lankan descent in Japan.

“In countries with large populations there might be support for the LTTE, but in Japan, it is a small population and we have found nothing to prove their support for the LTTE,” he explained.


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