“Some of the majorcontributions of Dr. Punchi Banda are promotion of Japanese agricultural technology and Japanese language in Sri Lanka and the many initiatives in training of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers working in Sri Lanka.” the Ambassador said. Dr. Punchi Banda was also instrumental in forging strong links between the two countries as a Vice President, Japanese Graduate Alumni Association in Sri Lanka (JAGAAS).  The 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Sri Lanka were celebrated last year, where JAGAAS was actively involved in organizing several commemorative events with the good effort of Dr. Punchi Banda. The Government of Japan has conferred one of its distinguished honors “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays”,  on Dr. Sabhapathi Mudiyanselage Punchi Banda, Senior Advisor – JICA Sri Lanka Office, in recognition for his outstanding contributions in enhancing relationship between Japan and Sri Lanka, the Japanese Embassy in Colombo said today.Commenting on the award the Ambassador of Japan to Sri Lanka Nobuhito Hobo said that Dr. Punchi Banda had played an important role in improving the effectiveness of Japan’s social and economic development cooperation to Sri Lanka, which enabled the strengthening of friendship and goodwill between the people of Japan and the people of Sri Lanka. “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays”, one of the decorations of Japan, is awarded by the Emperor of Japan to foreign nationals who have made notable contributions to enhance bilateral relations with Japan. The ceremony to confer the official decoration on Dr. Punchi Banda will be held in late May, 2013 at the Ambassador’s residence. (Colombo Gazette)