The 70th anniversary of Japan-Cambodia friendship has been celebrated throughout the year, marked by over 70 events throughout the country.

The functions have enhanced the understanding and strengthened the relationship between the two nations, bringing them closer than ever before.

Japanese ambassador Atsushi Ueno addressed the December 8 closing ceremony of the affair at his official residence in Phnom Penh.

He highlighted that the year’s celebrations included numerous events, including the Kizuna Festival in February, the Friendship Orchestral Concert in September and other recent events including the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon and a cultural exchange at Bayon Temple.

“I was fortunate to witness the extraordinary performances of artists from Japan and Cambodia. It was a privilege to form friendships with many remarkable individuals,” he said.

Ueno pointed out that the relationship would not merely culminate with the success of the celebrations, saying it was essential for both nations to build on this year’s achievements and further develop their bilateral relations in the coming years. 

He emphasised that this development requires more than just governmental interaction; it necessitates widespread participation from the peoples of both countries.

“We aim to leverage the momentum generated by the 70th anniversary to enhance exchanges and information dissemination across various levels and sectors between our countries. Ultimately, we are committed to increasing people-to-people exchanges in all areas,” he stated.

Sok Chenda Sophea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said at the ceremony that economic ties between the two countries have been significantly strengthened. Japanese trade and investment in Cambodia have seen notable growth, benefiting both populations.

“I am delighted to see major companies like Minebea, AEON and Toyota expanding their operations in Cambodia, and Toyota plans to open an assembly plant next year,” he said.

He noted that the success of these major Japanese brands in Cambodia, combined with the economic development and favourable business environments in both countries, is likely to attract more Japanese firms. 

He added that the government highly values Japan’s substantial contributions to the peace process and will continue supporting sustainable socio-economic growth and health in the country.

Laura Tevary Mam, a Khmer-American singer and songwriter and the goodwill ambassador for the anniversary, mentioned that 2023 has been a remarkable year for the relationship between the two nations, highlighting the collaboration in music production between Cambodian rap star Mann Vannda and Okinawan hip hop sensation Akiko Urasaki, known professionally as Awich.

“I look forward to more programmes where our countries can cooperate in the future. Such collaborations will bring us closer, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect between Japan and Cambodia,” she added.