Cambodia And Japan Strengthen Diplomatic And Economic Ties At 2023 Japan-Cambodia Summit 

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The Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, met Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan, along with several high-ranking delegates to discuss a number of key economic agreements during the summit visit to commemorate 50 years of cooperation between Japan and ASEAN.

2023 Japan-Cambodia Summit 

Several outcomes were announced as a result of the Japan-Cambodia Summit with intentions announced to further strengthen the relations between the two countries in the fields of defence and security, trade and investment infrastructure, as well as revisiting direct flight resumption between the two nations.

Among the agreements was an announcement to try and increase the number of Cambodians working abroad, with plans to increase Cambodians working in Japan by another 8,000 in 2024. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Cambodians are already in Japan, working, studying or completing internships.

On the security front, the two leaders agreed that they will establish Senior Defence official talks in addition to the Senior Foreign Senior discussions.

The summit took place as 2023 is the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Japan, and this was also upgraded to one of a comprehensive strategic partnership. A “70th Anniversary of Friendship between Cambodia and Japan” Commemorative 5,000 Riel Silver Coin will be minted in Japan to mark the occasion.

What Initiatives Does Cambodia Support

Hun Manet expressed his full support for Japan’s initiatives raised in the Asia Zero Emission Community Leaders’ Meeting (AZEC) at the summit.

Japan also proposed a Common Agenda Initiative, which was newly introduced in the Development Cooperation Charter, while the Japanese also want to contribute in the healthcare sector and advanced medical care at regional core hospitals in Cambodia.

Cambodia fully supports three initiatives:

  • Heart-to-Heart Partners Across Generations
  • Partners for Co-creation of Economy and Society
  • Partners for Peace and Stability. 

2023 Japan-Cambodia Summit 

What MoUs Were Signed Between Cambodia and Japan

During the summit on December 18 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding on several documents were signed in Tokyo, Japan.

  1. National Data Centre Development Project – Intended to promote e-Government.
  2. Digital water supply management system in urban areas – Development project 
  3. Production of electronic navigation maps – new project to request a vessel for hydrological measurements
  4. Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan – Cooperation for Digital Economic and Social Development in Cambodia.
  5. QR Codes – National Bank of Cambodia and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan on Cross-Border Payment Cooperation via QR Code.
  6. Ministry of Mines and Energy with Minebea Mitsumi and SchneiTec – cooperation on a solar energy project.
  7. Ministry of Mines and Energy, Erex Co. Ltd. and SPHP (Cambodia) – cooperation on a biomass energy project

Will Japan and Cambodia See A QR Code Payment Services Agreement

One of the stories to come out of the meeting was the potential future agreement on allowing for interoperable QR cashless payments between Japan (JPQR) and Cambodia (KHQR)

The agreement could benefit both countries, especially for visitors from both nations. Japan is reportedly eager to expand cooperation with member states of ASEAN and this initiative could lead to an increase in consumption by foreign visitors to Japan and vice versa.

Japan News reported that the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the National Bank of Cambodia signed the memorandum of cooperation to pave the way for the interoperation of the two countries’ QR code payment systems and potentially launch the services by April 2025, which is when the 2025 Osaka-Kansai Expo begins.

Japan is a key trade partner for Cambodia and the fifth largest with bilateral trade reaching USD $2.45 billion in 2022.

Foreign Affairs – Japanese Aid Policy For Cambodia

Sok Chenda Sophea, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation also met with Yoko Kamikawa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan.

The pair announced that among their major concerns were; politics, economy, infrastructure, defence and security, demining, Peace Keeping Operations (PKO), people-to-people exchanges, resource development, digital development and cybersecurity.

The issue of cybersecurity, online fraud, and online human trafficking were highlighted as key topics, while Kamikawa added that they hoped to cooperate with the Kingdom on topics such as demining and peacebuilding – which included bilateral support for demining in Ukraine.

Other reported topics were North Korea, “Women, Peace and Security” (WPS), Myanmar, as well as the East and South China Seas, and current conflicts taking place globally.

Sophea added that the Council for the Development of Cambodia is organising a meeting in Phnom Penh in 2024 which will endorse the draft plan for the Japanese aid policy for Cambodia during the five-year period 2024-2028.

It was also proposed a Cambodian consulate in Osaka would enhance diplomatic and cultural ties. As a part of the summit, Kojima Holdings Co Ltd announced it would establish a Khmer village in Kanagawa Prefecture to raise awareness of Khmer cultural traditions in Japan.

In attendance at the summit meeting between Japan and Cambodia in December 2023 were Japan Minister for Foreign Affairs KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications MATSUMOTO Takeaki, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry SAITO Ken, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary MORIYA Hiroshi and others, while from the Cambodian side Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chanthol, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sok Chenda Sophea, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Hang Chuon Naron, Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia Chea Serey, Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul, Minister of Mines and Energy Keo Rattanak, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth and others.

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