In the wake of a severe 7.4 magnitude earthquake in central Japan, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Heng Sour addressed the plight of Cambodians living there, amid diminishing tsunami threats and ongoing evacuations. 

With thousands of Cambodian nationals working and studying in Japan, the minister’s statement highlighted the concerted efforts of Japanese and Cambodian authorities to ensure their safety.
Sour said that after closely monitoring the earthquake situation, it was determined that the threat of large waves and aftershocks had lessened. 

However, Japanese authorities have reiterated their warnings for people to remain cautious for the next few days. 

The minister said he had yet to receive any information concerning the safety of Cambodian skilled workers, students or the Cambodian Student’s Association in Japan (CSAJ). 

He also noted the absence of requests for assistance or reports of Cambodians in danger from the Kingdom’s embassy, Japan’s labour ministry, the Japan Federation of Employers’ Association or worker recruitment agencies.

“The Japanese authorities have evacuated its citizens and foreigners, including Cambodians, to safety. We, along with the Cambodian embassy in Japan, are closely monitoring the situation for the safety of Cambodian nationals in the affected area,” a ministry post stated. 

On the afternoon of January 1, the embassy advised Cambodians to exercise caution and adhere to the instructions of local authorities.

The move came after the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a notice about an earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture of central Japan, which it said could trigger a tsunami alert with water levels potentially rising up to 5m in Niigata, Toyama, Yamagata, Fukui and Hyogo prefectures. 

“We urge Cambodians living in the area to be extremely cautious and follow the instruction of local authorities in case of evacuation. If anyone receives information from affected Cambodians, please contact us through the embassy or call 080 4689 9374,” stated the embassy. 

It released another notice on January 2, reporting that as of 1pm on January 2, 24 people had died in Ishikawa, with their identities not yet confirmed, and there were over 60 injuries across Ishikawa, Niigata, Fukui, Toyama and Gifu prefectures. 

It stated that more than 100 buildings in Ishikawa were damaged by fire or had collapsed.
The notice added that more than 45,000 families had been evacuated to date and 33,000 houses had suffered power outages. 

“The Japanese government is dispatching food to the affected areas and has sent over 1,000 rescue team forces to the regions, with an additional 8,500 on standby for when necessary,” it stated. 

Cheang Dima, a trainee residing in Fukui, mentioned in a video that although the area had experienced a minor earthquake, neither he nor other students in training had been harmed.

“Therefore, I wish to reassure people in Cambodia not to worry about us living in Fukui. We have not been affected by the earthquake,” he said. 

According to 2022 data from Japan’s Ministry of Justice, 82 Cambodians lived in Ishikawa, 279 in Fukui, 208 in Nagano, 791 in Gifu, 152 in Toyama and 117 in Niigata. 

Nearly 30,000 individuals, including Cambodian skilled workers, trainees and students, are working ant training.