Japanese Peace Envoy for Sri Lanka Yasushi Akashi giving an exclusive interview to the Daily Mirror at his private office in Tokyo on Tuesday said Japan was `mindful` of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and was concerned, irrespective of whether the violations were by the LTTE, the government or any other party.
`We are `very observant` of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka,` he noted, pointing out that the Sri Lankan government too was taking this seriously.
Japan was closely watching the independent international body appointed to inquire into human rights violations and hoped it would expedite its work to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in Sri Lanka, he said.
However, in the wake of the recent suspension of aid to Sri Lanka by the US and the UK, Japan on the other hand was watching the situation carefully, Mr. Akashi said.
But asked if Japan had any intentions of scaling down aid to Sri Lanka, Mr. Akashi said, `We are not thinking of it now,` and added, `I cannot commit for the future,` hinting of Japan`s possibility of reconsidering its decision in the future.
Japan has been the single largest donor to Sri Lanka over the past two decades.
The Japanese peace envoy who is expected to be in Sri Lanka by early June was however not optimistic as to whether any negotiations, for which Japan is in favour, could be gotten off the ground.
Having already scheduled a meeting with the government, there has been no response from the LTTE for a meeting as yet. During his upcoming visit Mr. Akashi expects to update himself first-hand of the ground situation in Sri Lanka.
Observing the escalation of violence, the peace envoy noted that this had obviously resulted in more IDPs suffering in the north and east, `and we follow these humanitarian developments with concern.`
He was critical of government moves to assist the IDPs back home.
`The Sri Lankan government says it is doing its best in providing assistance as conditions are ready. But NGOs report that the IDPs are resettled where they are not very comfortable,` Mr. Akashi asserted.
Commenting on the humanitarian condition in Jaffna he observed that although there was an `improvement` however, `it was very hard.` `We also watch with concern the reports on disappearances and abductions,` he added.
President Mahinda Rajapakse `has his own ideas` and his administration was unlikely to ask for the kind of `help` return to peace talks with the LTTE at this stage, the Japanese peace envoy noted that while adding that he respects President Rajapaksa for `his own ideas`.
`The present situation is not the same as in 2001 or 2002. The road to peace is never straightforward,` he said, adding `This administration does not seem to be requesting the help that the Wickremesinghe administration had called for when the peace process got on track with a ceasefire agreement in 2002.`
`If Sri Lankans sincerely aspire for peace, a genuine peace should be within their reach. No government or organization can provide it for them. They can only help,` Mr. Akashi noted. He pointed out that Japan could help only if Sri Lanka `desires its help`.