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“Land of the Rising Sun”

Kay Kimsong / Khmer Times Share:
His Excellency Ung Rachana Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia to Japan

KT: Can you briefly tell us about your main tasks as the Kingdom’s ambas­sador to Japan?

H.E: As the ambas­sador, I represent the Cambodian government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan. I have four main tasks: to pro­mote and expand Cambodian- Japa­nese relations and cooperation, pro­tect Cambodia and its people’s inter­ests, supervise the implementat ions of the diplomatic and economic poli­cies and work with other countries’ embassies to deal with various is­sues and to expand Cambodia’s diplo­matic ties.

KT: What are some of your achieve­ments since com­ing into office a year ago?

H.E: First of all, we successful­ly implemented our annual plans. We celebrated the Victory Day (Janu­ary 7), Independ­ence Day (Novem­ber 9) and other national and reli­gious holidays with the Khmer com­munity here. We are also organising annual Khmer lan­guage speech con­tests for Japanese university students who study Khmer language at our embassy. Further­more, in July 2019, the Japanese and Cambodian busi­ness men we were in contact with, were invited to join our networking event called Japa­nese Business-Cul­tural Council. This is a mechanism to promote invest­ments by Japanese entrepreneurs in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

KT: If a Japanese businessman asks you whether Cambodia is the right place for them to invest in, what will you tell him?

H.E: To be hon­est, no one has asked me this yet, but should I be ap­proached, I will bring up two exam­ples. The first one is Minebea, a major company with over 7,000 workers, which has been op­erating in Cambo­dia since 2017. The second example is AEON Mall, which is going to open its third branch in Cambodia. Mean­while, the reforms introduced by Sam­dech Techo Hun Sen and the new investment law will make Cambodia even more attrac­tive for Japanese investors.

KT: Have you found many Japa­nese entrepre­neurs wanting to come to do busi­ness in Cambodia?

H.E: There are many who are in­terested, espe­cially in the King­dom’s tourism industry. I have also been pushing for that, in accord­ance with the gov­ernment’s focus on the “smokeless industry” and the promotion of the local SMEs. In the meantime, many Japanese compa­nies are operat­ing within the ag­ricultural sector, but Cambodia is lacking facilities to process those ag­ricultural products so they have to go to our neighbour­ing countries. If we can have more in­vestments for pro­cessing facilities, we can decrease the cost of raw ma­terials. The labour cost is also cheaper in Cambodia.

KT: How has the Cambodian Em­bassy in Japan been helping Cam­bodian nationals here [Japan]?

H.E: Regarding the Khmer people here, nothing ma­jor has come up. They (Cambodian nationals) ask us to extend their visa or issue new pass­ports for them. Meanwhile, we have been work­ing to assist Cam­bodian migrant workers here in Japan. To date, there are 9,971 mi­grant workers from Cambodia, which is far more than the number of Khmer people living here. Part of our job for the migrant work­ers is dealing with exploitation by employers and improving work­ing conditions, but all of these rarely happen. In 2019, we settled about 280 cases, eight of which were sal­ary disputes and involved 39 work­ers. Those disputes account for the re­turn of 25 million yen($234,920.00). We also extend orientation classes to the workers who come to Japan for the first time and we pay them visits whenever we can to ensure there are no cases of abuse by their employers.

KT: Which industry seems to have the most Cambodian workers?

H.E: Japan is now focusing on skilled labour. Since April last year, Japan has had a law that ac­cepts skilled work­ers from other countries. They need 340,000 workers in the next five years. How­ever, by the end of December 2019, it received only about 1,600 skilled workers, 117 of whom are Cambo­dian. They are re­quired to work for at least five years and they receive the same salary as Japanese workers.

KT: Have the Cam­bodian workers al­ready been trained in Cambodia or did they only receive their training after coming here?

H.E: Before com­ing to Japan, they were required to speak Japanese. There are several Japanese language schools in Cambo­dia. The companies in Japan contacted the recruitment agencies [who runs these schools] to find workers for their operations.

KT: How much does a skilled worker here make on average?

H.E: Although we have never asked them how much their salaries are, I can say their pay is the same as what Japanese workers receive. However, it also varies ac­cording to the cit­ies and regions they work in. What is more impor­tant than the sal­ary are the skills they have acquired while working here, which will be very important for their lives and future, especially when they go back to Cambodia.

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