As of the end of December 2010, the Government of Japan has provided around 1,100 billion Japanese Yen (JY) (approximately Rs. 1,400 billion) as assistance to Sri Lanka under its various funding schemes that have benefitted people in all parts of the country including those in conflict affected areas. This assistance is provided through several funding schemes such as Grant Assistance, Technical Cooperation, and Yen Loan scheme and mainly executed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in close cooperation with the Government of Sri Lanka. In addition, Japan provides support through UN Agencies, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and local, Japanese, and international NGOs.
Japan’s assistance to Sri Lanka mainly focuses on two areas which are inter-related, and the assistance is expected to produce synergetic effects;
1. Consolidation of Peace and Reconstruction, and
2. Medium and Long-term Vision for Development
In this context, Japan has engaged in the agendas of i) post conflict reconstruction, ii) socio-economic infrastructure, iii) poverty alleviation, iv) human resources development and v) climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Recent Major Projects
Anuradhapura Teaching Hospital
Upper Kotmale Hydro Power Project
Bridge in Badulla constructed through GGP
The recent major assistance projects for socio-economic infrastructure include: i) improvement of Anuradhapura Teaching hospital by providing new facilities with medical equipment; ii) construction of Vavuniya- Kilinochchi Transmission Line, iii) improvement of central functions of Jaffna Teaching Hospital; iv) construction of the new Mannar Bridge and improvement of the Causeway; v) improvement of Kandy City Wastewater Management; vi) Eastern Province Water Supply Development; vii) Provincial/Rural Roads Development; viii) construction of Upper Kotmale Hydro Power; ix) development of Solar Electric Power Generation in Hambantota, x) construction of Southern Highway from Kottawa to Kurundugahahetekma, and xi) construction of the first section of the Outer Circular Highway in the outskirts of Colombo. These projects are expected to contribute not only to the development and welfare of all people of Sri Lanka, but also serve as a symbol of friendship between the people of Japan and the people of Sri Lanka. Especially, the projects in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces are expected to promote sustaining peace and reconciliation among all communities.
Under Japan’s Technical Cooperation, a total of 11,057 Sri Lankan professionals and students have been trained in various fields in Japan and 1,724 Japanese Experts ad 788 Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) have been dispatched to Sri Lanka up to the end of March 2009. At present, 56 Volunteers are actively working at the grassroots level and over 20 Japanese experts are working with counterparts in relevant Ministries and institutions. In order to strengthen the capacity of Northern and Eastern provincial authorities, Japan is currently involved in a project to build capacity of the local officials concerned. In addition, there are several scholarships offered by the Government of Japan to young Sri Lankan public officers in various fields of expertise. 15 officers selected for the Human Resource Development scholarship are presently pursuing their post-graduate studies in three universities in Japan.
The Government of Japan also provides assistance to Sri Lanka through international agencies such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and UN Agencies via Japan Special Fund, Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, Japan Social Development Fund, and Human Security Trust Fund etc. The Eastern and North Central Provincial Road Project, Poverty Reduction through Rural Infrastructure Maintenance, US$ 11 million (approximately Rs. 1,250 million) through IOM, UNHCR, UNICEF, and ICRC for providing shelter, food, water and sanitation to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) living in camps. In addition, US$ 7 million (approximately Rs.800 million) was provided through seven Japanese NGOs operating in Sri Lanka under the Japan Platform Fund to meet emergency humanitarian needs in conflict affected areas.
Japan’s Role in the Private Sector of Sri Lanka
(1) Sri Lanka has traditionally been a good friend of Japan. Japan and Sri Lanka have maintained cordial relations, including cooperation in international arenas, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1952. Sri Lanka is geopolitically important to Japan in securing its sea lanes and in developing economic ties not only with South Asian countries but also with countries in the Middle Eastand Africa.
(2) Since the end of the internal conflict in 2009, Sri Lanka has shown steady economic growth. However, Sri Lanka faces various challenges in furthering its continued economic growth such as, the delay in transition to high value-added industries , the mismatch in demand and supply in the labor market, underdeveloped infrastructure in various sectors including transport and energy, insufficient social services in rural areas, and natural disaster risks given by its geographic location. In addition, there are areas in the North and the East where basic infrastructure was destroyed as a result of the 26 year long internal conflict.
(3) Therefore, Japan’s assistance to Sri Lanka aims to help Sri Lanka in addressing its challenges and promoting further economic growth, in addition to improving business environment for Japanese companies in Sri Lanka. In doing so, Japan hopes that the economic ties and the friendship between the two countries will grow further.
Furthermore, it is hoped that Japan’s assistance will lend support to Sri Lanka’s national reconciliation efforts and economic and social developments, and thereby contribute to consolidation of democracy and stability in the entire South Asia as well as securing stability of the sea lanes.
2. Fundamental Principle of the ODA (Overarching Aim): Promoting high quality, inclusive growth
Aligning with Sri Lanka’s basic development principles, at the core of Japanese assistance is focus on developing infrastructure and institutions necessary for high quality growth in Sri Lanka, beyond the steady growth that the country has been achieving so far , and to impart stability to the country.
Considering Sri Lanka’s history of the internal conflict and current development environment, Japan provides impartial and fair assistance keeping in mind emerging areas, while paying attention to its vulnerability due to natural disasters, etc.
3. Priority Areas (Specific Aims)
(1) Promoting quality growth
For Sri Lanka to grow further economically, it needs to develop its transport infrastructure for domestic movement of goods and people mainly in the metropolitan area and for cross-border connectivity, to ensure distribution of affordable electricity and stable supply of water. Thus, Japan actively supports infrastructure development in sectors such as transportation, energy, water supply and sewerage, eyeing utilization of Japan’s advanced technology, both in hardware (physical) and software (institutional); such assistance could also contribute to improving business environment for Japanese companies in the country.
In anticipation of Sri Lanka’s entry into an upper middle-income country in the near future, Japan supports Sri Lanka’s efforts to promote investment and to develop private sector, and thereby improve economic and fiscal health of the country by enhancing public sector efficiency through such measures as improving system and introducing public-private partnership (PPP). In this context, Japan also supports efforts towards human resource development to strengthen administrative capabilities.
In addition, to ensure sustainable development of the economy, attention will be paid towards bilateral cooperation on developing information and communication technology, promoting cooperation on industries that form the basis for growth such as science and technology cooperation, developing local small and medium sized enterprises, and towards improving environmental and sanitary conditions.
(2) Development cooperation for inclusive growth
Regional and individual disparities are widening with economic growth in Sri Lanka. In addition, regions in the North and the East of the country are lagging behind in development due to the effects of the internal conflict in the past. Therefore, Japan supports development of industries and human resources with focus on agriculture, improvement of basic infrastructure that contributes directly to people’s lives and their industrial activities, and women’s economic empowerment in order to improve livelihoods of the people in these areas. In addition, Japan also pays attention to coastal regions where people live primarily on fishing and the regions with potential tourism resources, and continues to assist in demining activities in the Northern areas.
(3) Mitigating vulnerability
Sri Lanka, being an island nation, is strongly affected by monsoon and vulnerable to natural disasters such as heavy rain. It is also vulnerable in social service due to the delay in establishing its service delivery system. Therefor measures to mitigate its vulnerability are needed.
Japan provides physical and institutional assistances to develop and strengthen Sri Lankan government’s capacity for tackling climate change and natural disaster risk reduction, and also to improve social services such as health and medical services.
4. Points of consideration
(1) In providing its assistance, Japan pays attention to the regional and ethnic balances in the country in order to encourage Sri Lanka’s efforts for national reconciliation.
(2) The World Bank revised its assistance policy toward Sri Lanka in 2016. Emerging countries such as China and India are actively assisting Sri Lanka in recent years. In providing its assistance, Japan pays attention to activities of other development partners.
(3) In order to support sustainable economic development of Sri Lanka, Japan also pays attention to environmental and social impacts of development. Additionally, Japan considers assistance in human resource development and in science and technology through higher education to enable efficient operation of its economic and social management activities.
(4) Japan continues to place emphasis on public-private partnership and cooperation with NGOs and international organizations.