Former Prime Minister Hun Sen, chairman of the Supreme Privy Council to the King and president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), expressed hopes that Japan will continue to provide infrastructure assistance to the Kingdom, and requested that Japan accelerate the development of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS).

Hun Sen made the suggestions during his October 24 meeting with Koumura Masahiko, former Japanese foreign minister and ex-vice president of the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Hun Sen praised the bilateral trade volume and noted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Japanese investment in the Kingdom continues to grow.

“[Hun Sen] expressed hopes that Japan will continue to assist Cambodia in the field of infrastructure. He specifically requested support for deepening the facilities at the PAS, in order to accommodate larger cargo vessels. This would make the port more competitive and speed up water, land and air connections,” said a post by Hun Sen’s social media team.

During the meeting, Hun Sen highlighted Japan’s important role in pursuing peace and development in Cambodia, explaining that Japan has provided substantial funding, though the UN.

He said that although he is no longer prime minister, he remains president of the ruling party, and that the government, currently led by Prime Minister Hun Manet, has not changed its foreign policy position on Japan.

He added that Cambodia maintains positive relations and policies and is always seeking to further strengthen ties between the two countries. The Kingdom supports a free and open Indo-Pacific policy, which is based on three main goals: To serve peace and development, to not oppose any country, and to support ASEAN centrality.

He explained that Koumura is a figure who has made strong contributions to peace and development in Cambodia and promoted the two countries’ partnership since 1990.

Both nations provide mutual support for one another in regional and international forums, with one example being the Kingdom’s support for Japan as a member of the UN Security Council.

Koumura, who acts as an economic adviser to Japanese businesses doing business in Cambodia, was accompanied by representatives of the Japanese private sector during the October 24 meeting.

Hun Sen requested that he continue to encourage Japanese investors to increase their presence in Cambodia and also suggested he explore which of the Kingdom’s goods would be suitable for export to Japanese markets.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on October 24 that Japan was once the Kingdom’s leading donor in terms of infrastructure, although China has now taken the leading role.

“Cambodian people recognise the excellent quality of Japanese infrastructure construction,” he said.

He explained that Japan helped build and expand the PAS, in addition to its previous aid. The port is an important economic gateway for shipping goods to international markets, as well as for imports.

“Our ports are not up to the standards required by the largest cargo vessels. As the PAS does not have the capacity to handle big ships, we have to use Vietnamese port facilities. It needs additional development, as it is an important channel for economic development,” he added.