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Cambodia, Japan upgrade bilateral ties

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Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida bump elbows prior to a bilateral working meeting in Kumamoto, Japan on Saturday. SPM

Cambodia, Japan upgrade bilateral ties

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has accepted Hun Sen’s proposal to formalise strengthened bilateral ties between the two countries to reflect their increasing cooperation on the defence, development and trade fronts.

Prime Minister Hun Sen made the proposal at a meeting on the sidelines of the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Japan, where the leaders discussed cooperation on the matters in which the two countries have historically worked together.

He requested that the Cambodia-Japan “Strategic Partnership” be upgraded to “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” in the “near future”.

Kishida accepted Hun Sen’s proposal, saying that bilateral relations between the two countries remain firm, especially in the defence sector. He thanked Cambodia for welcoming the recent docking of two JMSDF ships, which he said “further strengthened” bilateral ties.

He said Japan will continue to support the development of Preah Sihanouk deep-sea port and provide more subsidies for the project.

Hun Sen told Kishida that Cambodia “stands ready” to welcome Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) to dock at its ports in the future, saying that the Kingdom will continue to cooperate with Japan in defence matters, according to an official Facebook post on his page after the meeting.

“Hun Sen confirmed that Cambodia will continue to welcome JMSDF visits and docking at Cambodian ports,” the post read.

“He also said that the development of the deep-sea port of Preah Sihanouk province will accelerate economic development and boost exports of Cambodian products… as well as [facilitate] imports without having to rely on the ports of other countries.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Prime Minister Hun Sen (left) and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida (right) preside over the signing of an MoU by water resources minister Lim Kean Hor (seated left) and Saito Tetsuo of Japan on Saturday. SPM

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a press statement on April 24 that Hun Sen lauded Japan for their role in improving Cambodia’s water, sewerage, and irrigation systems.

Hun Sen “welcomed and expressed [great] appreciation to the Japanese government for its leading role in expanding the water supply system and developing the sewerage and irrigation system in Cambodia,” the statement said.

Cambodia and Japan have maintained positive diplomatic ties for more than seven decades, with the latter helping oversee peacekeeping efforts in the Kingdom since the 1990s.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said: “Upgrading their [Cambodia and Japan’s] strategic partnership to ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’ status in the near future will strengthen their friendship and mutual support on the international stage, promoting global peace and development, and combat Covid-19.”

He said cooperation with Japan will be a “core component” in the quest to turn Cambodia into a developed and high-income nation by 2050.

After the summit, Hun Sen met with Kumamoto prefecture governor Ikuo Kabashima. He also met with the heads of eight companies, some of which have investments in Cambodia and others which are preparing to commence business operations in the Kingdom.

Hun Sen said he welcomed those companies and had “observed” their activities in Cambodia, and reminded them of the country’s “good” investment laws for overseas investors.

His Facebook post noted that “investing in Cambodia is a good way to strengthen and elevate economic connections between our two countries.”

The prime minister also met with Yogo Kanda, General Manager of Mitsubishi Corporation, which manages the production and transportation of garment products from Cambodia to international markets. The company also imports vehicles and installs elevators in the Kingdom, and has operated in Cambodia since 1997.

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