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Hun Sen set for working visit to Japan this week for conference

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Hun Sen at Phnom Penh International Airport in April . The prime minister will be on a working visit to Japan from Wednesday to Friday. Heng Chivoan

Hun Sen set for working visit to Japan this week for conference

Prime Minister Hun Sen will be on a working visit to Japan from May 29 to 31 for the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia and a series of events in Tokyo, a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said.

Following the conference, Hun Sen will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss various bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest.

Both prime ministers will witness the signing of agreements to extend Japanese grant aid for two development projects in Cambodia.

Hun Sen will be accompanied on the visit by Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, senior government officials and a number of business leaders from the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce.

The prime minister will deliver a keynote address on the conference’s theme In Search of the New Global Order – Overcoming the Chaos, and share his perspective on the current global context, future prospects, the way forward and Cambodia’s commitment and contribution to promoting harmony, peace and shared prosperity in Asia, the Pacific region and the world.

The conference is expected to hear speakers’ opinions on uncertainties including the US-China trade war, the struggle for high-tech military supremacy and the rise of protectionism.

The first of the two funding extensions that Hun Sen and Abe will witness being signed is a 200 million yen ($1.83 million) grant to implement an economic and social development programme involving the construction of a container freight station.

The second project, with a grant of 339 million yen, is for the implementation of the Project for Human Resource Development Scholarship.

During his stay, the prime minister will also make a speech at an Investment in Cambodia conference organised by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) and Mizuho Bank.

Protest to be staged

Former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) youth activists based in Japan are set to protest Hun Sen’s presence in the country at three different locations – the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Future of Asia conference and Hun Sen’s residence in Japan.

Hay Vanna, the head of the CNRP youth movement in Japan, told The Post on Sunday that the protests are a message that Hun Sen is not the legitimate prime minister as he has not been appointed through free, fair and just elections.

“We would like to relay the message to the public, especially the Japanese people and the Nikkei newspaper, that the dictator Hun Sen should not be invited to Japan for a second time."

"We remain firm in our stand that Cambodian people in Japan definitively cannot accept the result of the July 29, 2018 election,” he said, adding that he was unsure how many people would participate in the protests.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the protests were normal for a democratic country but that he would not pay any attention to the demonstration because they are protesting against a prime minister who won a landslide victory.

"The protests are equivalent to protesting against the people themselves," he said.

In response, political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that if such protests were planned in Cambodia, the authorities would not let them happen.

“Such protests are practically banned inside the country even though the government official claims it is a democratic country. Those Cambodian protesters are living in Japan, which is a democracy. Their protests would not be tolerated if they were staged in Cambodia,” Mong Hay said.

Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the protests in Japan would not affect the prime minister's working visit, and neither would it damage his reputation because Japan has never had a negative outlook on the political situation in Cambodia.

“Generally, Japan would like Cambodia to be prosperous and independent, and these protests encourage division in the country. I don't think the Japanese government would support them,” he said.

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