Japan's and Cambodia's governments are expected this week to sign an agreement that paves the way for Japanese airlines to service all 10 ASEAN states when the region integrates at the end of this year.
Japanese media agency Kyodo News yesterday reported that Japan’s parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Kazuyuki Nakane will visit Cambodia, as well as Laos, this week.
On the agenda is the signing of two bilateral aviation accords allowing Japanese airlines to operate direct flights between Japan and the two countries after the ASEAN Economic Community integration, slated for December this year.
“Japan hopes to further promote personnel and economic exchanges with Cambodia and Laos,” Kyodo News reported, quoting Japanese officials.
Japan has signed similar agreements with the other eight ASEAN member states.
According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Nakane is expected to visit Cambodia and Laos from January 12 to 17.
“This year is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Amity with Cambodia, the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with the Lao PDR, and a milestone year in building the ASEAN Community. This visit is expected to further strengthen Japan’s relationships with both Cambodia and the Lao PDR,” MOFA’s website statement said.
Nakane is scheduled to hold meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong, according to MOFA.
The aviation agreements come less than a month after news surfaced of Japan’s largest airline All Nippon Airways (ANA) plan to expand its services into the Kingdom.
Cambodian State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) officials and Cambodia Airports representatives last month confirmed that ANA had been studying the viability of an expansion into the Kingdom in recent months.
ANA and Japan’s concerted effort to launch flights to and from Cambodia come as Japanese tourism continues to rise in the Kingdom. In 2013, more than 206,000 Japanese tourists visited Cambodia, up 15 per cent from 179,000 in 2012.
SSCA officials did not respond to requests for comment.