Local analysts described the visit of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) destroyer Kirisame as another clear indicator that Cambodia is open to military cooperation with any nation.
The Kirisame paid its first call to Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on March 28 and remained for a three-day call.
The ship was on a training cruise for junior officers who recently graduated from the Maritime Officer Candidate School.
“During its three-day port call, the JMSDF and the Royal Cambodian Navy conduct a number of goodwill exercises to deepen their trust and friendship,” said the Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh.
Sources from the Preah Sihanouk provincial administration said that Maki Takayuki, commander of the vessel, confirmed that the destroyer was completing a training cruise.
The commander thanked the provincial administration for facilitating the docking of Japanese ships in Preah Sihnouk province.
"The crew learn a lot in the three days and two nights we are here,” he said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun, who personally greeted the ship’s company, said the visit would enhance diplomatic ties with Cambodia and ensure maritime security.
“The Japanese self-defence force makes a major contribution to protecting the world’s oceans,” he said.
"We are proud to see the modernisation of the JMSDF, and can see how important it is for a country to maintain its sovereignty. Cambodia has just begun to modernise its defence sector, but has received criticism for doing so. It is interesting that Japan’s is celebrated,” he added.
He also hoped the arrival of the Kirisame would bring more balance to the defence conversation.
The governor thanked the Japanese government and people for their support for Cambodia in almost all areas, especially regarding the economy and public health.
Royal Academy of Cambodia secretary-general Yang Peou observed that the docking, which came not long after a visit by a French navy vessel, was a clear indicator that the Kingdom was open to military cooperation with any nation.
“We do not discriminate against any country. We are always open to conducting joint exercises in the fields of defence and humanitarian aid,” he said.
Geopolitical researcher Van Bonna said that this activity shows the positive current state of military cooperation between Cambodia and Japan.
Bonna explained that visits by ships were not uncommon, but served to reinforce Cambodia’s willingness to cooperate with all countries, whether Japan, China, India or the US.
“The visit represents the diversification of Cambodia's defence sector to cooperation with Japan, a medium power in Asia. It also illustrates the Kingdom’s strategy of courting relationships with medium powers, as well as large ones,” he said.