Cambodia’s basic laws and regulations and its judicial system were completely destroyed by the Khmer Rouge which reigned from 1975 to 1979. The Judicial system infrastructure has been
rebuilt with the help of the Japanese Government since the early 1990’s. Cambodia strengthens the infrastructure of the legal system.
Q: May you introduce yourself to our readers?
Mr Morinaga: I am the director of the International Cooperation Department, which is under the Research and Training Institute, a facility of the Ministry of Justice of Japan, which has several functions. One of them is research in criminology and publication of white papers on crimes. The other departments deal with training prosecutors and other MOJ personnel, including assistant prosecutors and also what we call the legal affairs office which deals with company registration and partial immigration.
Q: What is the role of the Ministry of Justice of Japan (MOJ)?
Mr Morinaga: The MOJ has two international wings, one is our department which is the international cooperation department and the other is the United Nations Foreign Institute for prevention of crime and treatment. This organsation deals with criminal matters. It is a training institute which has conducted trainings overseas in more than 130 countries. It is an international training course organisation. The other is our department, and I am director of this. This is a young organisation set up in 2001, which means it started after Japan began technical cooperation in the legal field with Cambodia.
Q: Could you determine when Japan’s Ministry of Justice actually started its involvement and assisted Cambodia in the judicial field?
Mr Morinaga: The cooperation with Cambodia started somewhere in the 1990s. It started around 1996. After discussions and negotiations, the first Japan International Cooperation Agent (JICA) project, Phase I, was launched in 1999. So, the inception in 2001 means it was implemented after Japan started the technical cooperation in the legal field with Cambodia.
Q: I understand that besides Cambodia, Vietnam has also called for help in the legal field. How was the situation at the time?
Mr Morinaga: I go back in time because it started with your neighbor, Vietnam in 1991. They needed assistance as they started in 1986 but they didn’t get very far so they requested our help. Both MoJ and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t have any experience at that time to handle this so they said it was something for MoFA. When they realised it was about the law, two years down the line, in 1993, a prominent scholar of Japan who was a specialising in several law matters, got the MoJ to help Vietnam. So in 1994, MoJ gave it a try.
Q: When did Phase II begin and what have the activities been since then?
Mr Morinaga: In 2004 Phase II started which included drafting activities for the Civil Code. Before then, it was the Ministry of Justice of Cambodia who was involved as a counterpart, however after the second phase started the Royal School for Judges and Prosecutors which is under the the Royal Academy of Judges and Prosecutors of Cambodia joined in. They did some human capacity development activities there. The unique thing was we tried to engage tutors, teachers if you may. We scheduled classes for some to become lecturers and professors at the Royal Academy of Judges and Prosecutors. That went pretty well. I remember the time this happened because I was stationed in Hanoi, Vietnam and had frequent exchanges with people from Phnom Penh.
Q: How did the Cambodian civil code start?
Mr Morinaga: The civil procedure code came into place when it was adopted by the National Assembly of Cambodia. The implementation started the following year. 2006 saw its enactment and 2007 saw the actual implementation of that law. However, the Civil Code took a little longer. The Civil Code was enacted in 2007, but because it was quite new for Cambodia and also was a very big law, much of its infrastructure was not in place at that time. It took several years until its implementation which happened in 2011.