PHNOM PENH - Prime Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that Cambodia has issued new 500 riel bank notes (about ¥14) bearing images of two bridges donated by Japan.
Hun Sen made the announcement at a ceremony to connect parts of one of the bridges across the Mekong River, at the Neak Loeung Ferry crossing point, which is about 60 kilometers southeast of Phnom Penh.
One side of the new currency shows a portrait of Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni and the other side has images of the two Japan-funded bridges, named Tsubasa and Kizuna, which both cross the Mekong River.
“Today, in order to show friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and Japan, the government of Cambodia announces the start of official circulation of 500 riel notes,” Hun Sen said.
He added that he was pleased to present a new note to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe through Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Kazuyuki Nakane, who attended the ceremony, and urged visiting Japanese tourists to use the new currency.
Hun Sen also said he was happy to accept the Japanese government’s suggestion to name the new bridge Tsubasa, which in Japanese means a bird’s wings.
Speaking at the ceremony, Nakane said the bridge will help facilitate the livelihood of the Cambodian people.
Once completed, the 2.2-kilometer-long Tsubasa will be the first suspension and the longest bridge across the Mekong River in Cambodia.
Construction on the Tsubasa began in February 2011, with Japan’s grant assistance amounting to $127 million, and it is set for official inauguration and use before the Cambodian New Year in April.
Since the early 1990s, Japan has provided billions of dollars to Cambodia for peace, rehabilitation and infrastructure development.
Tsubasa is the third large-scale bridge donated so far by Japan after the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge built across the Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh and the Kizuna bridge across Mekong River in Cambodia’s eastern province of Kompong Cham.