PM hails Japan’s role in Kingdom’s development

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Norikazu Suzuki (left) meets with Prime Minister Hun Sen. facebook

On the second day of his visit to the Kingdom, Japanese Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Norikazu Suzuki met with the prime minister on Thursday, with Hun Sen hailing Japan’s role in Cambodia’s development and long-lasting peace.

With Phnom Penh increasingly clogged by the weight of its traffic, the prime minister called on Japanese companies to develop the capital’s transport system, with Japan having conducted a study into the problem.

At a bilateral meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen and Suzuki pledged to further strengthen ties and cooperation.

Suzuki cited Japanese projects that had helped Cambodia, such as the building of National Roads 1 and 5, development projects in the capital, the construction of infrastructures such as drainage and bridges, and the renovation of temples.

Hun Sen expressed gratitude to Japan for having always supported Cambodia in its path towards peace.

He also commended Japan for providing great assistance to Cambodia, in particular in contributing to the development of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in Preah Sihanouk province.

“Japan has contributed to Cambodia’s development in various sectors,” Hun Sen said on his official Facebook page.

In addition to loan assistance, Japan had also increased investment in Cambodia, Hun Sen said, while Japanese tourist numbers were increasing steadily.

With Japan having conducted a study to find transport solutions for Phnom Penh, Hun Sen called for Japanese companies to develop the capital’s transport system as soon as possible with traffic jams increasingly worsening.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Ket Sophann told The Post on Tuesday that Suzuki’s visit was part of “strengthening bilateral cooperation and relations” between the two countries.

Analyst Meas Nee acknowledged Japan’s support for Cambodia. Japan is the second largest provider of loans to the Kingdom after China, with an estimated $1.7 billion provided so far, he said. France was third and South Korea fourth.

Most Japanese assistance came in improving transport and public services, especially in urban expansion, he said.

“But we can see a trend that Japanese aid does not seem to have had a significant influence on the political system in our country.

“It is different from China. As China begins to develop a closer relationship with Cambodia, we also see changes in the political structure.

“As we have seen, the change from a multi-party political system to a one-party system was influenced after relations between China and Cambodia moved closer,” he claimed.

Japan still expressed concerns over the respect for democracy and human rights in Cambodia, Nee said, with Tokyo wanting to see the Kingdom returning to full democracy.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on Thursday assistance from all nations came in the spirit of cooperation and not to interfere.

“Before any assistance is supplied, a memorandum of understanding [MoU] must be signed, with the MoU clearly written. Assistance is not provided to grab an island or a piece of land,” Siphan stressed.

Suzuki began his three-day visit to Cambodia by meeting Minister for Foreign Affairs Prak Sokhonn on Wednesday.

He is due to wrap up his trip on Friday.

Sokhonn assured Suzuki that the government has taken all measures to strengthen the democratic and political space, ministry spokesperson Sophann said on Wednesday.

Sokhonn made his remarks when Suzuki paid a courtesy call to the ministry after landing in the Kingdom, said Sophann.

Sokhonn told Suzuki that relations between Cambodia and Japan continued to grow.

He also assured Suzuki that the government had addressed concerns raised by the EU regarding the democratic and political space in Cambodia, Sophann said.