05 Jun 2012
Cambodia, which established diplomatic relations with Japan in 1953, announced the following year that it would waive its right to seek damages for the Japanese occupation in World War II. The Japanese House of Representatives passed a vote of thanks on the occasion of then King Norodom Sihanouk's visit to Japan as a state guest in 1955.
The Japan-Cambodia Treaty of Amity -- which promised respect for each other's sovereignty and independence, and sustained friendly relations -- was signed during the visit. For Cambodia, it was its first amity treaty with another country since its independence from France, and the first such treaty for Japan since the San Francisco Peace Treaty went into effect.
Although exchanges between Japan and Cambodia lapsed during the years of the latter's civil war, they share a history of cooperation. Ahead of the 60th anniversary next year of diplomatic relations, various events are being held to promote exchange between the two countries.
Cambodian government officials in the capital city of Phnom Penh say they have great expectations for investment and increased tourism from Japan. However, Myanmar has been attracting the attention of many Japanese corporations in recent years, meaning investment in low-cost labor may be directed increasingly toward Myanmar.
As for tourism, in 2007, the number of Japanese tourists in Cambodia was second only to tourists from South Korea. Since 2010, however, Japanese travelers have dropped down to fourth place behind those from South Korea, Vietnam and China. In fact, two of the most common languages one hears at Angkor Wat are Korean and Chinese.
In Phnom Penh, construction of a new Chinese-funded bridge is taking place adjacent to a so-called "Japanese bridge" that was built with Japanese aid. Japan is still Cambodia's biggest aid provider, but China is occupying an increasingly larger share in that sphere as well. Hopefully Japan will take this opportunity to further cultivate its longtime friendship with Cambodia. ("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)