PHNOM PENH – Japan has signed a grant and loan agreement with Cambodia worth more than $90 million (¥9.6 billion) despite concerns from the international community over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s crackdown on government critics ahead of a July general election.
Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn signed the $4.6 million grant and $86 million loan, for economic and electricity transmission projects, on Sunday in the Cambodian capital.
The main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved in November at the request of the government, prompting some Western countries to condemn the crackdown, cut aid and impose visa bans on some ruling party members.
Rights groups and members of the opposition have urged Tokyo to take a stronger stance against Hun Sen, but Japan has said it will continue to provide election support and will not interfere in what it said are Cambodia’s internal affairs.
Hun Sen praised Japan for its financial assistance Sunday while lashing out at critics.
“While Japan, a friend, is providing assistance to Cambodia, some bad people can poison the news as bad as they did,” Hun Sen said on his Facebook page.
During a meeting with Hun Sen on Sunday, Kono said Japan will help Cambodia become an upper middle income country by 2030, said Hun Sen’s aide, Eang Sophalleth.
In a recent statement, Kentaro Sonoura, adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, urged Cambodia’s political rivals to hold talks to end the political crisis.