Chumreap suo! It is my greatest pleasure to celebrate the National Day of Japan with the Cambodian people again this year.
I visited Phnom Penh for the first time in 2002 for ASEAN-related summit meetings, accompanying the then Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro.
Twenty years later, it gives me great pleasure to work, once again, with our Cambodian friends for the success of ASEAN-related meetings.
Although ASEAN is currently facing various challenges, I strongly hope that Cambodia will wisely guide ASEAN during its chairmanship. Japan will support Cambodia’s efforts.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKOs) in Cambodia.
Following the conclusion of the Paris Peace Agreements in 1991, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) began to operate in 1992, headed by Akashi Yasushi.
Cambodia was the first ever country that Japan sent personnel on PKO missions to.
We are proud that Japan has been a major contributor to the peace-building process and the subsequent reconstruction and development of the country.
Linked to this, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Cambodia for its recent active role in contributing to the maintenance of peace in the world by dispatching its own personnel on PKOs.
In Cambodia, the Covid-19 situation is relatively under control, thanks to the great efforts of the Cambodian government and people, but it is still unpredictable.
The Japanese government has been providing various types of support to Cambodia in order to assist its efforts in tackling Covid-19, including the provision of 1.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in Japan.
Japan has also provided 100 ambulances and medical equipment, including cold-chain equipment, has been renovating hospitals and has supported the return of migrant workers in cooperation with international organisations.
Japan will also extend its yen loan up to $185 million, in addition to the $227 million which was disbursed in 2021.
This has been done to help curb the spread of Covid-19, to restore and maintain economic and social activities, and to support vulnerable people’s lives.
Japan has implemented various projects to support improvement in the quality of life of Cambodian people.
These have included large-scale infrastructure developments at locations such as Sihanoukville Autonomous Port and National Road No5.
Recently, Japan has also assisted Cambodia’s initiative of achieving Industry 4.0 by providing advanced technology, including information and communication technology.
For example, we have decided to provide high-spec, GPS-based survey equipment and a state-of-the-art computer numerical control machine to Cambodia.
We are also providing a lot of community-focused support in the fields of education, health, and water and sanitation through the KUSANONE grassroots grant assistance and other schemes.
Economic ties, including trade and investment, between Cambodia and Japan have also been steadily growing.
There are now more than 300 Japanese companies operating in Cambodia, and AEON Mall 3 is scheduled to open in 2023.
For further improvement in the investment environment, the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia is diligently working with the Cambodian government through the framework of the Cambodia-Japan Public-Private Sector Meeting, which I chair with HE Sok Chenda Sophea, Minister attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia.
In the field of culture and sport, the Kizuna Festival 2022, one of the largest Japanese cultural events in Cambodia, was held last week.
This year we were able to hold it in a hybrid format with some face-to-face workshops.
In relation to the Angkor archaeological heritage in Cambodia, I am pleased that the Japanese government and Japanese academic institutions have been contributing to research, conservation and restoration activities for many years.
Many Japanese nationals are also supporting the development of sport.
For example, famous Japanese football player Honda Keisuke is the general manager of the Cambodian national football team.
Moreover, a new organisation for the promotion of professional football leagues has recently been established, and its CEO is also an experienced Japanese professional. Young Japanese football players are playing for Cambodian football clubs.
I believe that football has the power to unite people with enthusiasm and that the enhancement of Cambodia’s football prowess will help to raise the overall level of football in Asia.
These are only some aspects of the rich and diverse relationship between our two nations.
Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Cambodia.
I would like to work with the government and the people of Cambodia to further promote the strategic partnership that was established by our two prime ministers in 2013.
On the occasion of our National Day, I wish Their Majesties the Emperor and the Empress of Japan, His Majesty King Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, Her Majesty the Queen Mother and the peoples of Cambodia and Japan good health, happiness and prosperity.
I also wish for the friendship between Japan and Cambodia to continue to flourish.
HE Mikami Masahiro, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Kingdom of Cambodia.