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Japan failing leadership test in Sri Lanka

“Japan's studied refusal to add to the international pressure on the Sri Lankan government, while it continues to pour money into infrastructure development, could be construed as not simply more ineffectual checkbook diplomacy, but in fact a cynical investment in the regime.

“The failure of Sri Lanka's most significant development assistance partner to lend weight to the widespread international pressure upon the Sri Lankan government to address the many significant humanitarian and human rights issues, and respond meaningfully to Tamil grievances, provides the Sri Lankan government with the necessary space to withstand the pressure."

Dr. Craig Martin, a law scholar with both University of Baltimore and Osaka University,  discusses the contrast between Japan’s role in Sri Lanka and Tokyo’s declared ambitions to be a world “power for peace”.

In October 2009, Japan’s stubborn support for Sri Lanka drew direct criticism from Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups, who protested:

"To date, while other major donors and friends of Sri Lanka have expressed their concerns in public, Japan has not spoken out against the illegal detention of a quarter of a million [Tamil] civilians, nor has Japan called for accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law by the government and the LTTE.

"It is the time for Japan ... to break the silence and to make use of its unique relationship with Sri Lanka to uphold the basic rights of all Sri Lankans."