The Japanese government has pledged continued assistance for Cambodia’s efforts to prevent cybercrime, as well as other crimes including terrorism and violent extremism, while a senior Japanese embassy official noted that cybercrime scams are becoming more serious in the region.

Taninai Ichitomo, deputy chief of mission at the embassy, warned that the rapid increase in cybercrime in Southeast Asia is a priority issue as it poses a serious threat to regional security efforts, with Cambodia being no exception.

“I understand that the situation of cybercrime scams has recently been becoming more serious in Cambodia,” he noted while addressing the June 19 opening of a cybersecurity training course in Phnom Penh.

“A number of cases were reported last year in which online recruitment agencies promised high wages, but the positions were often linked to transnational organised crime,” he explained.

The fived-day training is being coordinated and implemented by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and supported by Japan.

The course is being attended by Cambodian authorities, including National Police, financial intelligence unit, and representatives of the Ministry of Justice.

“Accelerated digitalisation during the Covid-19 pandemic has unfortunately created more diverse and complex forms of cybercrime as well. Under these circumstances, capacity development to counter these crimes is now becoming more and more important,” explained Ichitomo.

“The Government of Japan will continue to support Cambodia in preventing not only cybercrime but also other crimes including terrorism and violent extremism, in adherence with our core values of the rule of law, human rights, peace and justice,” he added.

He described how the UNODC and Japanese government remain cooperative strategic partners.

“We hold annual high-level policy dialogues to identify shared priorities, and formulate and implement action plans. Countermeasures against cybercrime are one of the key pillars of our priorities in countering organised crime and corruption,” he said.

He highlighted that for this reason, Japan has decided to support this project with the aim of familiarising Southeast Asian countries’ authorities with practical methods for investigation, collection, management and transportation of digital evidence resulting from cybercrime.

“This programme will directly contribute to improvement of criminal justice authorities’ capabilities to address cybercrime, enabling the prevention of a number of cases at an early phase,” he said.

“I believe that this partnership will enable both countries to have more diverse and deeper relations than before. The project we are launching today is a great example of this,” noted Ichitomo.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Cambodia. Recently, their bilateral relationship was upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

“Japan hopes that the training programme will help improve the capability of Cambodian criminal justice authorities to address cybercrime, which is one of the priority areas of cooperation between Japan and the UNODC,” said the embassy in a June 19 social media post.