PHNOM PENH – A memorial service was held Friday for a Japanese police officer who was killed in northwestern Cambodia during a U.N. peacekeeping operation in 1993.
On May 4 that year, Haruyuki Takata, then 33, was killed in a Khmer Rouge ambush. He was one of two Japanese peacekeepers to die during the U.N. mission. The other was Atsuhito Nakata, a civilian election worker who was killed in Kompong Thom province in central Cambodia.
Their deaths prompted the public to demand the withdrawal of the 600 Self-Defense Forces soldiers and 75 police officers sent to Cambodia as peacekeepers, or at least their withdrawal to safer areas.
“The late superintendent Mr. Takata had diligently attended to his duties as a member of … Japan’s first participation in a United Nations peacekeeping operation in history,” Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Hidehisa Horinouchi said at Friday’s memorial service near Phnom Penh International Airport.
The ambassador went onto say that Japan and Cambodia will continue to strengthen ties.
In a statement, the Cambodian government also emphasized the nations’ strong ties.
“Since the early 1990s, Japan has actively contributed to Cambodia’s peace process and supported its national reconciliation, reconstruction and social economic development,” the statement said. “The people of Cambodia will never forget this great assistance of the people and government of Japan to Cambodia, including the sacrifice of the lives of these two Japanese citizens.”