Prime Minister Hun Sen asked Japanese special envoy Yohei Sasakawa to continue working with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn in his role as ASEAN special envoy on Myanmar in the effort to revive its democracy.

The request was made at a meeting between Hun Sen and Sasakawa – who is also president of the Nippon Foundation – on March 7 at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

According to the premier’s Facebook post on March 7, Sasakawa supported Hun Sen’s visit to Myanmar in early January as it gave greater hope to the people there.

Hun Sen said his goal for Myanmar is to bring an end to the violence there and to bring humanitarian aid to its people while restoring its democracy.

“As the rotating chair of ASEAN, Prime Minister Hun Sen will make every effort to continue this work and he also requested that Sasakawa continue working with [Sokhonn],” the post said.

Sasakawa praised Hun Sen for his skill and wisdom in leading Cambodia to rapid growth and to a better life for its people, added the post.

The Nippon Foundation has a programme in Cambodia that teaches students how to make artificial limbs, and Sasakawa asked Hun Sen to allow students from Myanmar to come to Cambodia in order to learn how to make the prostheses.

Hun Sen welcomed Sasakawa’s initiative, saying it would be an honour for Cambodia to host them and provide this assistance.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, told The Post on March 8 that Hun Sen’s request was a good strategic choice because Japan, like Cambodia, is a country that has suffered from war.

He said Japan is also a nation that loves peace and a country that helped Cambodia rebuild and restore peace when it was faced with internal political divisions and war in the early 1990s.

Mengdavid said Japan has good relations with all ASEAN member states and is a key facilitator in pushing for Myanmar to accept the ASEAN five-point consensus, especially in demanding a ceasefire and accepting humanitarian assistance under the leadership of Cambodia as the ASEAN chair.

“Japanese technical assistance combined with Cambodia’s experiences [with negotiated endings to civil conflict] could be the key to resolving the crisis in Myanmar in a sustainable, peaceful and inclusive way for the benefit of the people there as well as the ASEAN region as a whole,” he said.