Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi announced on Wednesday that Japan will provide Cambodia with assistance to improve its urban areas, combat plastic litter in oceans, and fight terrorism.
The commitment was revealed during a phone conversation between Motegi and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn on Wednesday.
In a press release, the ministry said Japan will also provide Cambodia 25 billion yen ($234.6 million) under the Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan scheme.
Motegi was reappointed as foreign minister in September. He paid an official visit to Cambodia in August, making him the first foreign high-ranking official to visit Cambodia during the pandemic.
Motegi reaffirmed his commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation with Cambodia under the new Japanese government, the press release said.
“The Japanese minister also expressed his sympathy to the government and the people of Cambodia who have been badly affected by severe flooding. He stated that Japan stands ready to assist Cambodia in dealing with this hardship,” it said.
During the talk, Sokhonn noted that the two countries were implementing cross-border travel guidelines to allow for “Residence Track” visits where travellers can stay for longer than 14 days. A “Business Track” visit is also being planned for visits less than 14 days. Sokhonn expressed hope that the measures would be implemented soon.
“Both foreign ministers reaffirmed their shared aspiration and strong commitment to further promote bilateral cooperation in all areas for the mutual benefit of the two nations,” the press release said.
Tomoko Kubo, the Japanese embassy’s first secretary, told The Post on Thursday that the aid designated for improving the environment in urban areas and combating litter in oceans would hopefully promote sustainable plastic consumption and effective management of plastic waste in Cambodia.
“The project will develop policies and regulations, raise awareness, and support the reduction of plastic waste. It will promote new technologies such as recycling and plastic alternatives,” she said.
She said Japan’s grant aid for counter-terrorism capacity-building would provide equipment for security and counter-terrorism work.
Ministry of Environment spokesperson Neth Pheaktra on Thursday said: “Under Japan’s assistance, Cambodia believes the urban environments and the communities will improve.
“Also, the government has been implementing an action plan to improve the environment, including air and water quality control, waste management and plastic consumption management.
“The government also will raise awareness and spread education to the public to love the environment, change their attitudes and participate in making the environment better.”
He said more than 10,000 tonnes of waste is produced daily in the country. In Phnom Penh alone, between 2,700 and 3,000 tonnes of waste is produced each day. Of the total, 65 per cent is biodegradable, 20 per cent is plastic waste and the rest is solid waste.
Hong Vanak, a researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Japan and Cambodia relations have always been constructive on political, historical and economic matters.
Japan’s loan comes at a time when Cambodia badly needs assistance in developing sectors hit by Covid-19, he said.