Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan remains neutral amid poll criticism from the West




Japan remains neutral amid poll criticism from the West

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Workers unload ballot boxes donated to the Kingdom by the Japanese government. Despite criticism from several countries over the ligitimacy of Sunday’s vote, Japan has remained neutral on the election. Photo supplied

Japan remains neutral amid poll criticism from the West

While various countries commented on the Kingdom’s recently concluded national elections, Japan, which is a major donor and key investor in the economy has declined to do so.

“We did not send monitors to observe, so I cannot comment on the elections in Cambodia,” Chief Cabinet Secretary to the Japanese government Yoshihide Suga told the media in Tokyo, a day after the July 29 polls.

However, Australia, the United States and the European Union which also did not send observers, expressed concerns over electoral transparency, among others, because the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) could not participate.

Last November, the Supreme Court dissolved the CRNP after news surfaced that the party was attempting to overthrow the government, allegedly backed by the US.

Nonetheless, the response from economic-powerhouse Japan, despite its influential stature in geopolitics, has raised eyebrows among political circles and analysts.

Political analyst Meas Nee expressed the belief that Japan wants to remain neutral so that if there is a political situation after the elections, that country can intervene to assist.

“When Japan did not send its election monitors to join [the polls process], it seemed to indicate that it was not satisfied with [what] was happening in our country,” he said.

However, Japan’s silence could also be a strategic move by Tokyo.

Nee said Japan does not want Cambodia to become a dictatorship, and at the same time wants to protect its economic interest in the country.

Cambodia, he said, remains an attractive destination for investment-hungry Japanese in Southeast Asia.

Since the Japan External Trade Organisation opened an office in the Kingdom’s capital in 2010, some 1,500 Japanese companies have set up businesses in Cambodia. They have pumped in millions of dollars in investments in the growing domestic market.

The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) said Cambodia-Japan bilateral trade stood at just $366 million that year. It jumped to $1.61 billion last year, which indicates healthy trade-ties between the two nations.

“I think Japan may hold further talks [with the government] in the coming weeks after some international pressure. I think there could be a push for Japan to play a role,” Nee said.

Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) president Yang Saing Koma declined to read too much into Japan’s position.

“It is the business of the Japanese government. If they send their [election] monitors, they could make a conclusion based on their observation,” Koma said.

The Cambodian People’s Party (CCP) has claimed a landslide victory in the polls after winning the popular vote. It is confident of capturing all the 125 seats in the National Assembly.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia