Phnom Penh (FN), Oct. 23 – The new Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami has pledged to expand relations and multilateral sector cooperation with Cambodia, delegate minister Kao Kim Hourn told the press following the ambassador’s courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday at the Peace Palace Phnom Penh.

Ambassador Masahiro Mikami stated that Japan will continue to aid Cambodia on demining and energy sectors, and enhance the bilateral trade and the kingdom’s port capacity building.

The premier took note that Cambodia-Japan relations have grown to a strategic partner and bilateral trade has increased substantially.

On port capacity, the premier requested Japan to speed up the preparation of Master Plan on Sihanoukville Port Development noting that the deep-sea port will welcome big ships without the needs to transfer goods at Port of Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia.

He also thanks Japan for assisting Cambodia on demining sector and urged for further assistance despite the drops of landmine casualties. The Royal Government set goals to become the mine-free country by 2025. Due to Cambodia's efforts in the last decades, the accidents resulted from mine and unexploded ordnances have dropped remarkably. Landmine casualties in Cambodia from 2000-2005 accounted for over 800 accidents per year, fell short to 100 accidents per year in 2016-2018. Despite the dramatic drop in rates, this figure is still high compared to countries of mine issues.

It is worth noting that Cambodia and Japan established diplomatic relations on 9 January 1953. Cambodia-Japan relations have improved steadily and become a strategic partnership in December 2013.

In 2018, Cambodia and Japan celebrated the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations by exchanging visits of both leaders, and holding joint cultural programs.

Regarding the investment, from 1994 to 2018, Japan has 137 investment projects in Cambodia, with total worth of USD 2.5 billion. Japanese investment capital reached USD 822 million in 2016, USD 863 million in 2017, and USD883 million in 2018 respectively.

Between 1992 and 2018, Japan had provided the equivalent of more than $2.8 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Cambodia – about 15 percent of total financing by all development partners. Japan has supported major infrastructure projects – building the Kizuna Bridge and the Tsubasa Bridge, improving National Roads No. 1 and 5, developing a new container terminal at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, and improving flood protection and drainage in Phnom Penh.

Japan is one of the leading countries to provide assistance to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, providing a total of USD 85 million from 2005 to 2016, equivalent to 32% of international financial aid. In 2017, Japan has provided an additional USD 1.2 million for international process in the ECCC.