Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida increase international cooperation in the area of peacekeeping between the two countries by providing more training to Cambodian peacekeepers.

The request was made during a meeting between the two premiers via video conference to discuss bilateral cooperation on December 1, according to Hun Sen’s Facebook post.

“[Hun Sen] requested that the Japanese prime minister push for more cooperation between the peacekeepers of the two countries and especially in the provision of training to Cambodian peacekeepers,” the post said.

Hun Sen also thanked the government and people of Japan for their supporting development aid to Cambodia – particularly recent efforts to fight Covid-19 – including vaccines, ambulances and medical supplies.

He recalled the history of cooperation between the two countries in the modern era, which included Japan sending peacekeeping forces to Cambodia in 1992 – an especially significant gesture on Japan’s part given that it was the first time that it had sent its soldiers abroad since the fall of the Japanese Empire at the end of World War II.

Hun Sen and Kishida agreed that they would find an appropriate way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of that historic event when it arrives next year.

During the virtual meeting,Hun Sen also requested that Japan continue to provide scholarships to Cambodian students and encourage additional Japanese investment in Cambodia by the private sector.

He also looks forward to meeting Kishida next year in person when Cambodia chairs the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.

“Cambodia is proud to be a loyal friend to Japan,” Hun Sen said.

He added that Cambodia and Japan first forged official diplomatic ties on January 9, 1953. Under Cambodia’s current modern-era government, the bilateral relations have subsequently improved and expanded and the two nations became strategic partners in December of 2013 following Hun Sen’s visit to Japan.

After the civil war in Cambodia ended, Hun Sen recounted, Japan had supported the country in its peace-building efforts and in national development, which has served as the foundation for the stalwart friendship that exists today.

“The relationship has continued to grow and today is even deeper in the realms of politics, security, economics, human resources and cultural exchanges,” Hun Sen said.

Heng Kimkong, a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland and visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Centre, told The Post that Japan has played a crucial role in Cambodia’s post-war development and continues to play an important role in assisting the country.

“Thus, it’s essential that Cambodia engage Japan as much as possible and seek Japan’s support across a variety of areas, including training its UN peacekeepers,” he said.

Cambodian Institute for Democracy president Pa Chanroeun told The Post that, 28 years ago Cambodia was a country that needed the help of UN peacekeepers and administrators to aid with holding its elections, writing a new constitution and forming a new government. Japan, he said, was one of the countries that stepped up to assist Cambodia.

Now, he added, Cambodia has come a long way in terms of development and can take great pride in the fact that it is now able to send peacekeepers to help other countries that are currently facing chronic conflicts, instability and insecurity.

“I believe that Hun Sen’s request to Japan is a positive one that reflects our history of good relations and it will help to increase the capacity, expertise and confidence of our Cambodian peacekeepers for future operations,” he said.