It is a great pleasure to be sharing this message with the Cambodian people on the occasion of the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan.
On May 1 last year, His Majesty the Emperor Naruhito was enthroned and a new imperial era – “Reiwa” – began. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, for his visit to Japan to attend the Enthronement Ceremony that was held in October 2019. I would also like to thank all the Cambodian people who kindly sent congratulatory messages to His Majesty the Emperor and the Japanese people by letter and Facebook comments via the Embassy of Japan.
Since I arrived in Cambodia last September, I have received a warm welcome from the Cambodian people and this has demonstrated to me how strong the trust and friendship is between the peoples of Japan and Cambodia. This relationship has been nurtured by our cooperation over many years.
On another positive note, I am also delighted to see the enhancement of our economic relationship through the increasing investment of Japanese companies in manufacturing services, finance, insurance and real estate etc. Bilateral trade has also increased, from $1 billion in 2014 to $2 billion in 2018.
I am proud that Japan has been supporting Cambodia’s peace, reconciliation and development, based on multi-party democracy, since the early 1990s. Recently, we have also been working to propose solutions to new challenges – such as the needs to improve sewage system, waste management, traffic congestion and road safety – that have been caused by the rapid development and urbanisation of Cambodia. Japan has been facing these problems since the 1970s and is happy to be able to share our experiences to help the Cambodian people solve them.
Thanks to the commencement of direct flights between Tokyo and Phnom Penh in 2016, the number of Cambodian visitors to Japan has increased remarkably, from 5,000 in 2013 to 22,000 in 2018. In addition, 200,000 Japanese people visit Cambodia every year. I would like to boost these exchanges with a view to deepening the mutual understanding between our two nations. I am convinced that the JENESYS youth exchange programmes, and the Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship and Kakehashi, provide precious opportunities for the young people of Japan and Cambodia to build the basis of our future relationship.
This year Japan will host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. To celebrate, we will bring the atmosphere and spirit of the world’s biggest sporting festival to the Cambodian people at our annual “Japan-Cambodia Kizuna Festival”. This event will showcase performances from both cultures and include many activities that participants can join in with.This year’s Kizuna will be held from February 20-23 and will feature sports events under the theme of “Power of Sports”.
On this occasion of our National Day, I wish His Majesty King Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, Her Majesty the Queen-Mother, Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress of Japan, and the people of Cambodia and Japan good health, happiness and prosperity. I also wish for the friendship between Japan and Cambodia to continue to flourish.