Shinzo Abe meets Hun Sen, expresses hope for Cambodia’s development through democratic means

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday expressed hope for the development of Cambodia through a democratic process amid criticism from the international community over the Southeast Asian nation’s latest election results.

Speaking to reporters with his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, after their meeting in Tokyo, Abe said, “Japan expects Cambodia to develop further through the solidarity of the people and the promotion of its democratic process.”

To that end, Abe said Japan will invite young politicians from various parties and senior officials of the national election board so that they can learn about Japanese election systems.

Japan will also provide support to strengthen transparency and fairness in Cambodia’s legal process, Abe added.

The Hun Sen administration has been under fire as his ruling party won all seats in the National Assembly in July’s general election after the opposition was forced to dissolve ahead of the race.

Hun Sen, who has been in power for 33 years, said he was “very satisfied” with Abe’s proposals, adding they will contribute to the development of democracy in his country.

“I expect the younger generation to build a democratic culture,” the Cambodian leader said.

Abe and Hun Sen met ahead of Tuesday’s Mekong-Japan Summit, which also involves the leaders of Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Hun Sen extended his gratitude for Abe’s readiness to help Cambodia bid to host the Asia-Europe Meeting in 2020.

If the summit is convened as planned, it will be the first time the Southeast Asian nation has hosted such a large gathering of leaders from Asia and Europe.

As this year marks the 65th anniversary since Japan and Cambodia established diplomatic ties, Abe also promised to offer up to ¥3.6 billion ($31.6 million) in low-interest loans to repair and build irrigation facilities around Tonle Sap Lake, which is one of the biggest lakes in Southeast Asia.