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Japanese PM paying state visit March 20-21

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (right) and Lieutenant General Hun Manet, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces during the latter’s visit to Japan in February. HUN MANET VIA FACEBOOK

Japanese PM paying state visit March 20-21

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will pay an official visit to Cambodia on March 20-21 to enhance relations and cooperation between the two countries.

Kishida’s visit will coincide with ASEAN special envoy Prak Sokhonn’s planned March 20-23 visit to Myanmar in a bid to break the deadlock and pave the way for progress in the implementation of the ASEAN five-point consensus (5PC).

Kishida’s visit will come three days after the departure of two Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force ships – the Uraga and Hirado – from the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port. The Japanese vessels conducted maritime demining training with their Cambodian counterparts and also visited the Ream Naval Base.

In a March 17 press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Prime Minister Hun Sen and Kishida will hold a meeting to discuss enhancing bilateral cooperation, including in the fields of trade and investment, education, infrastructure, defence and security, and the post-Covid-19 socio-economic recovery.

Both leaders will also exchange views on common interests and concerns. A joint press conference is scheduled for the end of the meeting, with a joint statement expected thereafter.

During the visit, Kishida will lay a wreath at the Independence Monument and pay tribute at the Royal Memorial Statue of the Late King Father Norodom Sihanouk. He will also visit memorials to the Japanese officials who sacrificed their lives while serving with the UN in Cambodia.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said this would be a historical visit for Cambodia and Japan. The visit comes as Cambodia chairs ASEAN, which will provide an opportunity for Japan to hold talks in both bilateral and ASEAN frameworks.

He added that Japan is a major development partner of Cambodia and had helped it build infrastructure, as well as its economic system. It was also an important investment partner. Japan will likely discuss regional issues – such as the Myanmar crisis – as it had previously provided special envoy assistance to Cambodia.

“Japan also needs Cambodia as the chair of ASEAN to promote cooperation between the bloc and Japan, especially in maintaining regional and global economic and security stability, especially in the context of the South China Sea issue and the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” he told The Post on March 17.

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