The Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), in partnership with the Japanese embassy, held a special discussion to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Cambodia-Japan diplomatic relations.

The November 10 event aimed to deepen mutual understanding between the two countries, reflecting on their shared history and current dynamics.

Sok Touch, president of the RAC, expressed his sincere gratitude to Japan for his 2013 visit, which included exposure to Japan’s diplomatic sites in Tokyo.

He highlighted three key points in the countries’ bilateral relations: Japan’s sustained economic superpower status, Cambodia’s shift from a former superpower to a Least Developed Country (LDC) and the historical interplay between the two nations, including Japan’s brief colonial rule over Cambodia from 1941 to 1945.

“Japan, once a coloniser of Cambodia, has maintained its status as a world economic superpower. Cambodia, although not a coloniser of Japan, has transitioned from its past superpower status to an LDC,” he said.

“In ancient times, Japanese culture was known for its harshness, particularly in how defeated warriors would choose to end their lives. However, today’s Japan exemplifies honesty and gentleness, a transformation that has positively influenced the entire Southeast Asian region,” he added.

He also highlighted Japan’s lasting impact on Cambodia, such as the construction and later reconstruction of the Chroy Changvar bridge.

He underscored Japan’s post-WWII assistance to Cambodia under the Paris Peace Agreement.

“It’s important to remember the mutual support between our nations. Japan’s assistance to Cambodia was a significant historical marker, and Cambodia’s refusal to accept post-war reparations, opting instead for charitable contributions, reflects our shared values and experiences,” he stated.

Som Visal, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and co-chair of the committee for the 70th Anniversary of Cambodia-Japan Friendship, discussed the diplomatic evolution between the two countries.

“Our relationship has matured into a deep strategic partnership. Cambodia was the first among ASEAN members to support Japan in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), highlighting our multifaceted internal relations,” he said.

“Economic cooperation is a cornerstone of our relationship, fostering trade between our nations. Cambodia exports textiles, footwear and furniture to Japan, while [Cambodia] imports vehicles and electronics [from Japan],” he added.

Japanese ambassador Atsushi Ueno noted that the forum was a significant opportunity for the embassy to engage with the RAC, an institution central to human resource development in Cambodia.

He acknowledged the RAC’s role as an important repository of knowledge and expertise, both within the Kingdom and on an international scale.

“The round-table discussion served as an opportunity for many Cambodians, particularly the younger generation, to foster greater interest in Japan and deepen the relationship between our two countries,” he said.