Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his gratitude to Japan for inviting his son Hun Manet to visit, despite the fear of Covid-19. He also welcomed holding future joint military exercises.
Speaking at the inauguration of seven bridges in Kratie and Prey Veng provinces on February 16, the premier said Lieutenant General Manet – deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of the Royal Cambodian Army – and his delegation had been picked up by a special jet from Japan for the four-day visit.
He said that although Manet was visiting Japan – from February 14-17 – in his role as army commander, he had also held discussions with Japanese foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and defence minister Nobuo Kishi, and on February 16 met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“I thank Japan for this gesture of commitment to our relationship. What should also be noted is that Manet has now had the honour of meeting with three Japanese prime ministers,” he said.
He said Manet had met with former Japanese prime ministers Yukio Hatoyama in 2010, Shinzo Abe in 2018 and Kishida on February 16.
Hun Sen also said he agreed with both countries preparing future cooperation in the military sector, including joint military drills.
“We can hold the drills in Cambodia; there is no problem doing that. What I really want is that any exercises should focus firstly on disaster response and secondly on combating terrorism.
“These are the two exercises that I really want; I don’t want war games, but combating terrorism is the duty of all nations – so exchanging our skills would be valuable,” he said.
According to the Ministry of National Defence’s information department, Manet is visiting Japan for discussions and to attend the anniversary of Japan’s first Peacekeeping Operations with the UN, some 30 years ago.
Manet met with General of the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) Yoshihide Yoshida for talks on strengthening bilateral military ties.
During the meeting, Yoshida pledged to support the Cambodian army in its capacity building and offered to assist with training in non-tradition security issues such as cyber attacks, disasters and epidemics. He also supported joint military exercises in the future.
The department said Manet recalled the friendship between the two countries and thanked Japan for its assistance in the post-war rebuilding of Cambodia which had led to its current prosperity.
“There has been notable progress in cooperation in all sectors, including the military, since 2013 – which was the first year of the strategic partnership between the two nations, as well as the year our respective defence ministries first held exchanges,” it said.
The department added that Japan will support the Cambodian military’s human resources and expected that Cambodia will become a partner in strengthening and protecting peace in the region.