Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has reaffirmed his commitment to the country and the upcoming national election as Kem Sokha’s daughter has taken to social media to demand an explanation as to why Japan is supporting an “artificial” election.
Last week Japan’s ambassador to Cambodia, Hidehisa Horinouchi, signed an agreement with Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn at the ministry, granting about $7.5 million in aid to the National Election Committee for the July 29 general election.
In reaction, Kem Monovithya, the daughter of former CNRP opposition leader Mr Sokha, who faces treason charges, posted on Twitter demanding an explanation as to why Japan has not followed the lead of the United States and European Union, both of which cut NEC funding after her father’s arrest and the dissolution of the CNRP.
“Japan has to explain to the people of Cambodia why it is supporting an artificial election that’s robbing the will of millions of Cambodians,” she said.
In letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen obtained yesterday, Mr Abe said that Japan is fully committed to continuing to help Cambodia develop and prosper.
“Friendship and confidence have been built between our two nations, shaking hands together, reaching the goal of peace, rebuilding the country and developing Cambodia,” Mr Abe said.
“As I announced on the visit with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Japan last year, Japan is committed to further supporting Cambodia’s development.”
Mr Hun Sen responded to Mr Abe, thanking him for the continued support and confidence in the government.
“The government and people of Cambodia highly appreciate the invaluable Japanese support which has helped transform Cambodia from a war-torn country and recipient of UN peacekeepers into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and an active contributor to international peacekeeping,” Mr Hun Sen said.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said the Japanese may be taking a different tact in their effort to exert influence in the kingdom.
“Perhaps the Japanese believe that they can have more influence over the government through aid rather than through sanctions,” he said.
Sok Eysan, a spokesman for the ruling CPP, said that Ms Monovithya was out of line posting a tweet demanding an explanation from the Japanese government.
“How can she demand that an independent, sovereign country explain why they are providing aid,” he said. “She is living outside the law and claiming to know foreign affairs better than others.”
“Japan granting aid to Cambodia is a great contribution to the strengthening of democracy in Cambodia,” he added.