Prime Minister Hun Sen on his second day of his visit to Japan expressed gratitude toward its government for contributing to the development of the Kingdom.
Mr Hun Sen made the statement as he addressed attendees at the Cambodian Investment Seminar. He said that thanks to Japan, Cambodia was able to achieve a 7.7 percent growth and graduate to a lower middle-income country status.
“Cambodia’s past and future growth can’t be disassociated from the support of our Japanese friends,” he said. “I would like to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the government and people of Japan for their significant contributions to our quest for peace, national unity as well as rehabilitating and developing the Cambodian economy through cooperation in financing, infrastructure development, technical assistance and human resource development in addition to investment by the Japanese private sector.”
Mr Hun Sen noted that between 1992 and last year, Japan provided more than $2.8 billion under its development assistance initiatives.
“Japan has supported major infrastructure projects – building the Kizuna Bridge and the Tsubasa Bridge, improving National Roads 1 and 5, developing a new container terminal at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, and improving flood protection and drainage in Phnom Penh,” he said.
Additionally, Mr Hun Sen said that Cambodia has welcomed more than 60,000 Japanese tourists in the first quarter of this year. He added that Japan has also welcomed an increasing number of Cambodian visitors.
“The number of Cambodians visiting Japan has increased,” he said. “According to the Japanese embassy in Cambodia, the number of visas granted to Cambodians rose 34 percent last year.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay yesterday said Japan is aiming to regain Cambodia’s attention amidst increasing Chinese influence in the Kingdom.
“Our prime minister needs support from a more accommodating Japan to counterbalance his dependence on Chinese support,” Mr Mong Hay said. “Japan wants Cambodia to stay outside China’s orbit.”
He noted that Japan also played a crucial role in securing peace for the Kingdom in the 1990s.
“Japan funded the [United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia] and hosted many meetings of the International Committee on the Reconstruction of Cambodia to mobilise aid for the reconstruction and development of Cambodia,” he said. “Through ICORC, Cambodia was pledged on average some $500 million per year over 10 years after UNTAC.”
Mr Hun Sen is in Japan for four days to attend Nikkei’s 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia.
Yesterday, Mr Hun Sen met with Japanese politicians and academics, including Liberal Demoratic Party secretary general Toshihiro Nikai, Sophia University professor Yoshiaki Ishizawa and Japan-Cambodia Association president Takahashi Fumiaki.
Mr Hun Sen is expected to deliver a keynote address today under the theme “In Search of the New Global Order – Overcoming the Chaos” after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Hasina.