Two Japanese naval vessels are to dock at the Sihanouk Autonomous Port for four days later this month to strengthen Japanese-Cambodian military ties, the Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh said.
Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Hatsuyuki-class destroyers Setoyuki and Shimayuki, led by Captain Yoshiyuki Nakagama, Commander of JMSDF Training Division 1, are to visit Cambodia from February 25 to 28.
“The objectives of the visit are to strengthen friendship between Japan and Cambodia through various exchange programmes, as well as to give opportunities for 109 cadet school graduates to learn about the culture and the military of the Kingdom of Cambodia,” an embassy press release said.
Captain Nakagama’s itinerary includes meeting the Commander of the Cambodian Royal Navy on February 26, after visiting Ream naval base, the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall and the Port Authority of Sihanoukville the day before.
The Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh did not respond to inquiries from the media by press time.
Neither Deputy Commander of the Navy Tea Sokha nor Chhum Socheat, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defence, could be reached for comment.
Last month, three Chinese naval vessels docked at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port to strengthen bilateral military ties.
Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said on Monday that visits by the navies of different countries reflected the fact Cambodia welcomed cooperation from all nations.
“Cambodia is independent and not aligned with any alliance. Any country can come to visit and strengthen cooperation with Cambodia. We sometimes conduct anti-terrorism drills [together], but Cambodia will not provide military bases to any foreign country,” he said.
“This reflects that Cambodia is a friend to all countries in the world,” he added.
Siphan said this also answered any concerns from US Vice President Mike Pence that Cambodia is allowing China a naval base in its waters.
“We have made our stance clear – no one is the enemy of Cambodia. The US is our friend in mutual cooperation. We don’t take the US as our enemy, and we are also not the slave of China,” Siphan said.