Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am indeed most delighted and honored to be present at this commemorative parade to ,mark the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Cambodia and Japan, and the ASEAN-Japan Exchange Year 2003. Together with H.E. Gotaro Ogawa, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Japan to Cambodia, we renew our resolve to develop and strengthen further our ties of friendship and cooperation between our two countries and peoples.
Indeed, H.E. Gotaro Ogawa, our close friend, will be leaving the Kingdom of Cambodia in order to take his new assignment very soon. During his three year tenure in Cambodia, H.E. Ogawa has left indelible print of personal exploit in Cambodia’s development. He has made great contribution to the strengthening of relationship between Cambodia and Japan. In this joyful gathering, on behalf of the RGC and Cambodian people and myself may I wish him and the family success with his new assignment, good health and happiness!
On such auspicious occasion, I am pleased to learn that the people of Kompong Cham have come to this peace parade to mark the 500 Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Cambodia and Japan and the ASEAN Japan Exchange Year 2003. The Great Kizuna Bridge symbolizes the strong heart-to-heart bond and the long lasting friendship between the two nations and peoples in the 21s’ century. Kizuna means “a solid friendship between our nations and countries without discrimination in relation to race or religion”. Thus, the donation of this bridge to the government and people of Cambodian by the Japanese government and people reflects the friendly long-lasting relationship and cooperation between Cambodian and Japanese peoples.
With the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between Cambodia and Japan, and the ASEAN-Japan Exchange Year 2003, our people are celebrating our King NORODOM SIHANOUK Birthday, the Water Festival and the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Independence Day (November 9) which are the landmark national and historical events. Moreover, these occasions happen at the time that the entire Cambodian people are happy with and strongly supporting the positive results of the meeting between the three political parties, – seeking political solutions involving the functioning of the National Assembly and the formulation of the new Royal Government for its third mandate. The meeting was presided over by His Majesty NORODOM SIHANOUK, the King of Cambodia on 5 November 2003.
I believe that under the wisest leadership of our highly respected King of Cambodia, the Father of National Reconciliation and with the responsible will and aspiration of the three political parties, the National Assembly and the New Royal Government will be eventually established and effectively function very soon.
Cambodia and Japan are not close geographically. However, if we think about the contacts and interactions that have gone on between our two peoples since the olden days, we are not that far apart either in cultural and spiritual terms. Thus, as you all may aware that the relationship between Cambodia and Japan has started since 17 century, when Japanese merchants and immigrants set sail to Cambodia and formed a Japan town in Ponhea Leu District, Kandal province, at the intersection between the Mekong and the Bassac Rivers.
This friendship has enabled our people and two countries to develop the tradition of mutual respect and support, both in mental and material terms, in the development process, which covers a wide range of areas, including politics, economy, culture, social affairs and religions between our two countries. Our King, His Majesty NORODOM SIHANOUK was the first Asian king to visit Japan. He was greeted and welcomed by Japanese Emperor with great hospitality and sincerity.
However, since Cambodia experienced protracted wars and political instability since 1970s up to 1990s, our diplomatic relations were temporarily interrupted. Since the search for political settlement of Cambodia, we have cooperated with Japan in advancing toward peace and economic reconstruction in the country. Our diplomatic relations were reestablished in 1993, paving the way for substantial influx of Official Development Assistance from Japan. Moreover, the Royal Government of Cambodia has also received other assistance from Japanese NGOs and people, who directly donated to Cambodian people like schools, hospitals, ponds, wells, etc. This has been great contributions to enhancing the dignity of the Cambodian people, while fostering democratic and stable governance. The Cambodian people will never forget this generous assistance and support!
All these prove that Japan is a rare and exceptional friend of people and government of Cambodia. The Royal Government and people of Japan always help and support Cambodia in all fields and in all circumstances, though Japanese economy is experiencing a number of problems. Thus, Japan and Japanese people is the biggest donor to Cambodia since Paris Agreement. Moreover, the Royal Government and people of Cambodia are proud to notice Japan’s important role in Cambodia’s national reconciliation efforts that successfully ended the prolong wars and brought full peace to the entire Cambodia.
In the rehabilitation and development of Cambodia, Japan has provided substantial financial and technical assistance to Cambodia especially for transportation infrastructure, which is the highest priority for Cambodia in its quest to reduce the poverty among our people. Specifically, since 1993 Japan has helped build and rehabilitate roads and bridges across the country. Those are durable and quality constructions such as the construction of Chroy Changva Bridge, Road 6A, Phnom Penh Port, Sihanoukviil Port, a scratch of road linked Road 6A to Kampong Cham’s provincial town, Electrical Power Grids, Clean Water Refineries, and other activities in education, social affairs, health, Buddhism and in many other areas – all that has enabled Cambodia to restore and develop the nation very fast and changed noticeably.
Our relationship is deepening – economically, politically, strategically, and perhaps most importantly, in our understanding of each other. And it is this understanding that has underpinned, and will continue to serve, the development of our broader bilateral ties.
Of course Cambodia and Japan have shared many common perspectives on regional security. The threat posed by terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – and the terrifying prospect that these threats might combine – has also given new urgency to international and regional security cooperation.
Cultural and people-to-people links are as much a part of the relationship. A Japan Studies center was recently established inCambodia and hopefully in the future there will be a new center established at the Royal University of Phnom Penh to disseminate Japan’s style of management, culture and language. More importantly, Japan has played an active role mobilization of assistance for the rehabilitation of the Angkor temples, the national symbol of Cambodia.
The understanding that has developed between our two cultures plays a vital role in underpinning the bilateral relationship more broadly. In the 1990s, in particular we saw a major expansion in the teaching of Japanese in Cambodia. The rapid expansion of Japanese language studies produced a new generation of young Cambodians with a deep knowledge of both the Japanese language and culture, thus resulting in close relations in many other areas such as business, trade and investment.
Moreover, our two countries have agreed to conduct a number of exchange programs to mark this important milestone in the bilateral relationship. Such exchanges will help ensure that future generations of Cambodians and Japanese continue to share the same understanding of each other that current and past generations have enjoyed, bringing more and more mutual benefits in the future.
Once again, on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and my own self may I request H.E. Mr. Gotaro Ogawa, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Japan to Cambodia, to convey our deepest gratitude and appreciation from the Royal Government and people of Cambodia to the Government and people of Japan, who have provided assistance which has contributed greatly to the building and maintaining of peace and political stability, and the rehabilitation and economic development of Cambodia toward progress and hope in the future. The Royal Government and people of Cambodia highly appreciate and will treasure this invaluable support forever.
I strongly believe that the Peace Parade today will contribute to the strengthening and forging close cooperation between our two countries and people, especially in improving our share understanding.
Before I end my remarks, may I wish H.E. Gotaro Ogawa and Madame, Excellencies Ambassadors of our Friendly Countries, Ladies and Gentlemen the five gems of Buddhist Blessings!