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Akashi pushes for accountability

Japan, one of Sri Lanka's largest donors, has reiterated the importance of accountability in Sri Lanka during talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse and called for a probe into human rights abuses in the country.

80-year-old senior Japanese diplomat Yasushi Akashi, who was the Japanese special envoy to Sri Lanka, told reporters,

"Japan hopes that the Sri Lankan government will make the (LLRC) report public in due course and takes steps to implement recommendations by the commission."

Akashi met with Rajapakse on Monday, during a four-day visit to the island, where he said he emphasised the "vital need to improve the human rights situation in this country."

He also mentioned that despite the end of the fighting, there was a "perception of insecurity" and spoke of “disappearances" in Tamil areas, military occupation of private property and heavy presence of soldiers in the island's northeast.

"We have no means to verify if these statements are true but I must say that there is a certain degree of common thread running through these comments."

However, he stopped short of calling for an international investigation into human rights abuses and said “accountability should be addressed by a national body."

Japan has been a long-time donor of Sri Lanka, with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently providing at least $317 million to help construct Sri Lanka’s first motorway. Akashi himself was a key figure in raising $4.5 billion for peace-building in Sri Lanka in 2003.

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