Top defense officials of Japan and Sri Lanka have confirmed that a Sri Lankan port leased to China should be open to all countries to ensure freedom of navigation.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera met Sri Lankan State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene in Colombo on Tuesday. Onodera is the first Japanese defense minister to visit Sri Lanka.
Onodera said the Hambantota port in southern Sri Lanka is located on a crucial shipping route.
Wijewardene said his country will not permit China to only use the port for military purposes.
Sri Lanka agreed last year to allow a Chinese company to operate the port under a 99-year lease.