On 6th October 2020, the Embassy of Japan in Sri Lanka organized a Seminar on “Quality Infrastructure” in commemoration of the “International Cooperation Day” of Japan with limited number of participants in Colombo. The “International Cooperation Day” marks the day when Japan joined the Colombo Plan on 6th October 1954, which had set a new course for Japan to redefine her role as a major development partner in the international community.
Prof. W.D. Lakshman, Governor, Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. H.D. Karunaratne, Chairman, Institute of Policy Studies and Senior Professor of the University of Colombo, and Dr. D.D.P.M Dunusinghe, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Colombo, the leading economists who are all profoundly versed in the subject of Japanese economic development and the history of Japanese ODA, graced the occasion as main speakers.
In his remarks, Ambassador Sugiyama touched upon the concept of “Quality Infrastructure” which, in Japan’s view, leads to resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth of developing countries, and which should be developed in accordance with international standards, with particular emphasis on (i) open access, (ii) transparency, (iii) economic efficiency including life-cycle cost, and (iv) financial viability of recipient countries, while relating to the gaining currency of the concept in the international community, including G7 Ise-Shima Summit, hosted by Japan in 2016, where the G7 leaders agreed upon the “G7 Ise-Shima Principles of Promoting Quality Infrastructure Investment” and G20 Osaka Summit in 2019, where G20 countries including emerging donors, under Japan’s leadership, endorsed “G20 Principles of Quality Infrastructure Investment”.
Ambassador Sugiyama also stated that the founding principles of the Colombo Plan, which are deeply rooted in the spirit of mutual cooperation and compassion, and to which the origin of the “International Cooperation Day” is inseparably connected, “will guide us a long way into the future as we witness the center of gravity shifts towards the Indo-Pacific region most tellingly where the greater majority of the member states of the Colombo Plan are the stakeholders.”
The Governor W.D. Lakshman spoke on the overview of the longtime economic partnership between Sri Lanka and Japan as “the Distant Neighbours” -the term he coined to express the closeness and neighbouriness despite the geographical distance that separate the two countries – while Prof. Karunaratne and Dr. Dunusinghe shed light on the significant role that quality infrastructure played in the Japanese postwar economic recovery and development as well as characteristics and positive impacts of Japanese Official Development Assistance on the economic growth and development in Sri Lanka, respectively.