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Japan pledges continued assistance for Kingdom’s development

Kay Kimsong / Khmer Times Share:
Endo Satoshi, Deputy Director, First Country Assistant Planning Division. Supplied

TOKYO: Japan’s Min­istry of Foreign Affairs has assured that its gov­ernment will continue to pledge assistance to Cambodia’s infrastruc­ture development even though Japan’s economy is affected by the global coronavirus.

Speaking to Khmer Times recently, Endo Satoshi, Deputy Direc­tor, First Country Assis­tant Planning Division, Foreign Affairs Ministry said Cambodia’s neigh­bouring nations, such as Thailand and Malaysia, have already achieved the status of middle-in­come countries, so now, it would be difficult for us to extend the project for them. But Cambodia still requires aid assistance for infrastructure devel­opment.

“We are making these assistances to promote the development of Cam­bodia within the Asean community. It would not serve the purpose of the people if it is not sustain­able. That is why we pro­vide different forms of assistance”, Mr Satoshi said. “We decide depend­ing on GDP per capita. We wish that there is still room for extending ODA in Cambodia,” he added.

He emphasised that the loans and grants are for projects like upgrad­ing roads, ports, bridges, clean water supply, trans­mission lines, health, environment and hydro power projects.

Japan holds consul­tations regularly to set out priority areas based on what the Cambodian government has request­ed for assistance. The Japan International Co­operation Agency (JICA) works closely on projects it extends the assistance to. Japan emphasises on the importance of sus­tainability after Cambo­dia pays back all loans, with the projects oper­ated by Cambodians.

According to a Minis­try of Foreign Affairs re­port obtained by Khmer Times, from 2013 to 2017, Japan provided loans totalling $357.7 million, grant aid of $503.5 million and tech­nical assistance of $215.5 million to Cambodia for infrastructure projects, including bridges, roads, ports, clean water sup­ply, hospitals and many others. The report said Japan’s assistance priori­ty has moved to strength­ening economic foun­dations such as roads, bridges, ports and agri­culture development. Re­garding enhancing social development, Japanese assistance focuses on ed­ucation, health care, wa­ter supply systems, demi­ning and UXO clearance.

The strong relation­ship between the two na­tions, especially the rela­tionship between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Japan’s Premier Shinzo Abe, started when both sides announced four years ago that it is impor­tant to make the “Indo Pacific Region free and open”.

Regarding exports, Ja­pan prioritises connectiv­ity between Japan and the Asean. This includes setting up airports, im­proving sea ports and improving road infra­structures which are key elements in upgrading the economy in the re­gion and particularly Cambodia, said Mr Sa­toshi. He added that un­der ODA projects, rule of law and transparency are necessary for Japan. “We care about the rule of law. So, we have to make the world account­able and foreseeable. If we can’t anticipate what would happen next, then it would not make for a peaceful world,” Mr Sa­toshi said. In order for Cambodia to do interna­tional trading, all goods have to flow very freely within the country and should be exported free­ly. Japan’s government is interested in the Siha­noukville Autonomous Port as a highly important infrastructure to boost the economy for Japan and strengthen two-way cooperation. As a result of economic cooperation extended to the Sihan­oukville port, the port ‘s capacity has doubled. But at the moment, there is still need to strengthen our cooperation because the port is still very much congested. So, Japan wishes to continue to proceed, perhaps to the second and third phas­es, Mr Satoshi said. He said, it is vital that the logistics should improve in Cambodia. There are various sectors in terms of economic cooperation to which Japan extends aid.“We sent our JICA experts, for example, to Sihanoukville port. They are the ones to provide knowledge and know -how to manage the port’s operations. In the meantime, Cambodians will acquire the knowl­edge to operate the port by themselves. These are kinds of training required for the sustainable devel­opment of the country,” Mr Satoshi said.

“One thing I would like to say, Japan has been a steady partner, continu­ously extending its as­sistance to Cambodia. Chinese assistance has significantly grown since 2010, but before that Ja­pan had been a very close partner with Cambodia. And I can assure you that Japan will always be a re­liable partner for Cambo­dia for years to come,” he added.

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