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Japan PM visits Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (AP) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited Cambodia for talks with the country’s longtime leader, Hun Sen, on Sunday to deepen relations and promote calls for the rule of law in one of the Southeast Asia’s closest partners of both China and Japan.

Kishida and Hun Sen in a joint statement condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and called for “an immediate stop of the use of force and the withdrawal of the military forces from the territory of Ukraine”. They stressed “neither threat nor use of all kind of weapons of mass destruction can ever be accepted in any occasion”.

After China, Japan is Cambodia’s largest donor and has funded the construction of bridges, roads, ports, electricity and water supply.

Speaking to Japanese reporters, Kishida said that it was meaningful that he was able to share determination with both Indian and Cambodian leaders during his trips to both countries this weekend not to allow any attempts to change the status quo by force “in any region” even though Russia was not directly criticised in their joint statements.

“Realistically, it is impossible to expect all countries to agree on everything. It was a major achievement that we confirmed our basic stance that we do not tolerate any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force,” he said.

In the joint statement, Kishida also expressed his intention to support “the promotion of democracy and the rule of law such as holding elections in a way that reflects diverse voices from Cambodian people”.

Just last week, a court in Cambodia convicted 21 people of treason and related charges for their nonviolent opposition activities. They included seven exiled leaders of the disbanded Cambodia National Rescue Party – the main opposition party – each of whom received 10-year prison terms.

Kishida’s visit came three days after the departure of two Japanese naval ships from Ream Naval Base, where the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force conducted demining training with
Cambodian counterparts.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida at Peace Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. PHOTO: AP
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