Following a meeting in which a Japanese emissary urged the government to open negotiations with the now-dissolved opposition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggested Japan’s concerns were based on a “misunderstanding” and said Cambodia is too small to fight against an alleged “strong propaganda machine”.
In a press release on Monday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it had spoken about the “current Cambodian situation” with Japanese delegate Kentaro Sonoura, a special adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
According to the release, Minister Prak Sokhonn told Sonoura that “the difficulty for Cambodia is that it is a small country . . . [and does not have] the capability to win over the influence of the strong propaganda-machine that is behind the anti-Cambodia campaign through . . . fake news about Cambodia”.
“This propaganda has a strong negative impact and causes misunderstanding about the real situation in Cambodia.”
The arrest of Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Kem Sokha in September, the dissolution of his party, and the closure of several independent media outlets have drawn criticism.
Monday’s release said Sokhonn insisted the measures were “to prevent the attempt to topple the legitimate government in Cambodia through a non-democratic process”.
Hironori Suzuki, Japanese embassy counsellor, said in an email that it was “of utmost importance” that July’s national elections “reflected the will of Cambodian people properly”, and that Sonoura had “encouraged [the] Cambodian Government . . . to realize dialogue among domestic people involved in politics”.