The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force will continue its tour of the region, docking at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port from November 18-20, said Em Pheap, deputy governor of Preah Sihanouk province at a November 2 meeting.

He said the provincial administration had previously cooperated with a team from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), with their vessels having visiting in the past. There had been remarkable cultural exchanges on that occasion, he recalled.

Pheap added that the governments of the two countries have maintained close relations and cooperation.

JASDF’s Lt. Col. HAMAMOTO Michinori thanked the provincial administration for allowing him to make plans for the port visit.

“My first visit to Cambodia was to this province of Sihanoukville, and I am grateful for the opportunity to visit this city of remarkable development and progress. The ships of the Maritime Self-Defense Force of Japan have called at the port of Sihanoukville so far, and I believe that the port call by the ship of the Maritime Self-Defense Force is a sign of good defense cooperation relations. We ask for the support and cooperation of all parties concerned for this port call and hope that the good defense cooperation relationship between the two countries will continue in the future,” he said, while expressing his gratitude to the provincial administration for granting permission for the port visit.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the docking is part of the implementation of Indo-Pacific strategy.

He said Japan’s security strategy and defence strategies are closely aligned with the US. Japan is said to serve as the “eyes” of the US in the region. Japan is also a close ally of India and Australia.

“The way they implement their Indo-Pacific strategy freely and openly through Japan is diplomatic, but it still represents the strategic goal of countering China’s influence in the region,” he added.

He said that allowing the ship to dock at the port is a way to show transparency in light of fresh allegations of Cambodia hosting a Chinese navy base in the Ream Naval Base. Cambodia also wanted to show cooperation in all sectors of security and defence with all countries, regardless of growing geopolitical rivalry between the US and China.