Japanese-owned Kojima Holdings plans to expand its investment in Cambodia’s agricultural sector, particularly for exports, and has proposed establishing a Khmer village in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan to enhance the dissemination of cultural traditions.

Its CEO Kojima Masanobu made the announcement during a December 18 meeting with Prime Minister Hun Manet in the Japanese capital Tokyo. 

Masanobu expressed the company’s intention to not only invest in the country’s agricultural export sector but also to establish a Khmer village, aiming to strengthen cultural ties and people-to-people relations between the two countries.

According to Masanobu, the holdings company currently operates a Cambodian private business centre in the prefecture. He said the facility plays a crucial role in providing trade and investment information about Cambodia. 

It also promotes Khmer products and food, cultural exchange, human resource training and business facilitation.

Manet welcomed the investment plans and expressed his appreciation of their funding, acknowledging it as an important contribution to the Kingdom’s economic growth. 

He thanked the corporation for its role in training and sending Cambodian interns to work in Japan, highlighting the considerable benefits the initiative offers Cambodia, both in the present and in the long term.

“The immediate benefit is job creation, which provides income and helps reduce poverty,” he said. 

“In the long term, the benefit lies in the development of Cambodian human resources; interns who gain experience and specific skills will be invaluable assets for Cambodia’s future,” he added.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), told The Post that Japan is a significant foreign direct investor in the Kingdom and a major purchaser of Cambodian goods. He noted that many Cambodian workers are employed in Japan. 

He said the chamber has opened a representative office in Sendai, Japan, to foster cooperation and attract more Japanese financers.

“Improving diplomatic relations and the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP], of which both countries are members, will further enhance trade between Japan and Cambodia,” he stated.

According to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), trade between the two nations during the first 11 months of 2023 reached $1.64 billion, a 7.9% decrease from the same period last year. 

Cambodian exports to Japan were $1.06 billion, slightly down by 0.3%, while imports from Japan decreased by 19.3% to $573.64 million. Japan currently ranks as the country’s fifth-largest trading partner.

As per the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Japan is the fourth-largest investor in Cambodia as of the first quarter of 2023, with a total investment of 11.3 trillion riel ($2.733 billion), an 11.6% increase from the same period in 2022. Japanese investments in Cambodia are primarily in the financial, construction, hotel and real estate sectors.

Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $1.948 billion in 2022, marking a 12.3% increase from 2021. Cambodian exports to Japan totalled $1.173 billion, up by 7.3%, while imports from Japan were $774.998 million, a 21% increase, according to the GDCE.