Prime Minister and Kishida talk about cooperation in Japan and conflict in Ukraine

Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida speak at a press conference in Phnom Penh on Monday. MPS

Prime Minister Hun Sen has urged the 23 Cambodian families living in Ukraine to ‘show solidarity’ with the Ukrainian people by staying in the country, as he and his visiting Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida have called for the immediate withdrawal of military forces of the beleaguered country in a high-profile meeting that also touched on issues of bilateral cooperation.

“Ukrainians still live there [in their country]. We have to live with them – don’t run away from them,” Hun Sen said on March 21 while presiding over the inauguration of the Preah Kossamak Cambodia-China Friendship Hospital in Tuol Kork district of Phnom Penh.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said earlier that the 23 families have lived in Ukraine since their members first studied there in the 1980s and 1990s, and have continued to reside in the country ever since. The ministry has confirmed that no Cambodian students are currently enrolled in a Ukrainian institution.

Hun Sen compared the situation in Ukraine to that in China at the start of 2020, when there was a high degree of panic around Covid-19, at which time he told Cambodian students living there – in particular in Wuhan – to stay in the country. He also recalled his 2017 appeal to Cambodians living in South Korea not to leave the country during the nuclear crisis fomented by North Korea.

In a joint press release on Kishida’s visit to Cambodia on March 20-21, the two leaders addressed the issue of Ukraine, noting that the two countries had co-sponsored the UN resolution earlier that month deploring ” Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

Hun Sen and Kishida shared the view that aggression against a UN Member State “undermines its sovereignty and territorial integrity, constitutes a serious violation of international law prohibiting the use of force and constitutes a serious violation of the Charter of the United Nations”.

Both leaders said they recognize that Russia’s military action jeopardizes the foundations of the international order, which does not accept any unilateral changes to internationally recognized borders by force.

“In the same spirit, the two Prime Ministers confirmed their commitment to preserving peace, stability and security in the Indo-Pacific,” the joint statement said.

Hun Sen reiterated his long-held belief that one war can never end another war and that a peaceful resolution should instead be sought.

The two leaders called for “the immediate cessation of the use of force and the further withdrawal of military forces from Ukrainian territory”.

They stressed that neither the threat nor the use of any type of weapons of mass destruction can be accepted under any circumstances, and that any armed attack and threat against nuclear facilities dedicated to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of international law. .

The “rapid realization” of the reform of the UN Security Council was necessary to address the serious problems facing the international community, as the situation in Ukraine shows, they said.

Addressing bilateral cooperation issues, Hun Sen said he “highly appreciates” Japan’s support for Cambodia’s development sectors, citing in particular the construction of critical infrastructure such as seaports, bridges, roads and electricity and water supply.

The leaders pledged to cooperate fully to realize the vision of Sihanoukville Port as a “major port hub” not only for Cambodia, but also for the Mekong region and beyond, and pledged to explore actively new opportunities for Cambodia’s sustainable growth”, such as in the field of infrastructure development.

The two leaders also addressed issues of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

According to the press release, Kishida expressed his intention to support the promotion of democracy and the rule of law, for example by organizing elections in a way that reflects the diverse voices of the Cambodian people through projects such as promoting dialogue between Cambodian government and civil society, improving governance through civic engagement and technical legal assistance.

Hun Sen said he appreciated Japan’s support in these areas and expressed his intention to make further efforts to integrate the results of this assistance into Cambodian society. He also expressed his appreciation for Japan’s efforts as drafter of the resolution on advisory services and technical assistance for Cambodia at the United Nations Human Rights Council, which urges the Cambodian government to take measures to improve the human rights situation.

Cambodia and Japan will commemorate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations as well as the 10th anniversary of their strategic partnership next year. The two leaders said they were happy to elevate bilateral relations to a new level and send diplomatic authorities to carry out the necessary studies to achieve this goal in a concrete way.

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