Japan voices concern over Sri Lanka economy, human rights

TOKYO, June 27, 2007 (AFP) – Japan, the single largest donor to Sri Lanka, on Wednesday expressed concern about the human rights situation in the island nation during a visit by Colombo’s foreign minister, the government said. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso raised “the Japanese public’s heightening concerns over the human rights situation in Sri Lanka” during a meeting with his counterpart Rohitha Bogollagama, Aso’s ministry said in a statement.

He also cautioned that Sri Lanka’s economy could suffer if the situation deteriorates even further, with tourism and foreign investment the targets, the statement said.

Bogollagama, visiting Japan for the first time since he took office in January, for his part said that Sri Lanka was pursuing “political dialogue and anti-terrorism measures” to try to push forward the peace process.

The talks follow a visit to Sri Lanka earlier this month by Japan’s special peace envoy, Yasushi Akashi, who voiced strong concerns over violence caused by the island’s long-running separatist conflict.

Japan accounts for about two thirds of bilateral aid to the island and international human rights groups have been lobbying Tokyo to exert pressure on Colombo to stem the spiralling vi