• Kyodo

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Japan signed a bilateral aviation agreement with Cambodia on Wednesday that will allow airlines to operate regular direct flights between the two countries, a Cambodian government official said.

Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong told reporters following the signing of the pact in Phnom Penh that the accord will help boost the tourism sector for both countries.

Currently, tourists from Japan need to transit other Asian nations such as Thailand or Singapore before arriving in Cambodia, he said.

The airlines pact was signed by Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Yuji Kumamaru and Mao Havannall, secretary of state with Cambodia’s State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, and witnessed by Cambodia’s Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Japanese Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Kazuyuki Nakane, who is on a three-day visit through Thursday.

Koy Kuong said he is not aware when the airlines will actually start direct flights between Japan and Cambodia.

According to the Japanese side, once the agreement takes effect after necessary domestic procedures such as Diet approval, Japan would have an aviation accord with each of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Japan is aiming to strengthen ties with ASEAN as the regional bloc has vowed to increase connectivity for further development toward the goal of establishing a more integrated ASEAN Economic Community this year.

A press release issued Wednesday following the signing said a substantial agreement over this aviation deal was reached during the visit to Cambodia by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in June of last year.

It also said this agreement “will allow for the stable operation of scheduled flights between Japan and Cambodia and will further promote people-to-people and economic exchanges.”

Koy Kuong said the number of Japanese visitors to Cambodia in 2014 totaled more than 200,000, ranking fifth among foreign tourists visiting the country.

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