Cambodians should Examine Japan’s Motives for Giving Aid

Posted by khmernews on November 17, 2006

Opinion – Letter to the Editor
By Ra Chhayrann, Phnom Penh
The Cambodia Daily
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Recently, Japan offered $11.8 million more to cover the remaining costs of the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Besides being a socio-economic development partner, Japan has been playing another critical role to reinforce the judicial system in Cambodia via strong support and funding to establish a credible Khmer Rouge tribunal.
I, on behalf of the Cambodian people, really appreciate Japan’s efforts to make the trial become reality.
But at the same time, there is little awareness on the part of the average Cambodian citizen of the political and other reasons behind Japan’s generosity.
It is important that Cambodian people understand the reasons why Japan has been paying so much attention to Cambodia.
From what I understand, it appears that in Cambodia, Japan has been tackling issues that are both sensitive and attractive to the international community, such as landmines and the Khmer Rouge tribunal.
By becoming heavily involved in these two issues, which are of international concern, Japan may gain a great deal in terms of public goodwill at home, in Cambodia, and indeed, worldwide.
For example, Japan recently gave a grant in the amount of $1.6 million to the Cambodian Mine Action Center to clear mines in two provinces, Battambang and Pursat.
And Japan has recently received much attention for its role in the upcoming Khmer Rouge tribunal.
As I see it, there was initially very little response from Japan regarding the trials when the Cambodian government first called for international help in forming a credible tribunal in 1997.
But after the UN decided to withdraw from the negotiating table with the Cambodians in February 2002, which brought the Khmer Rouge tribunal much attention from the international media, Japan immediately started to increase its involvement.
During that year, Japan and France proposed a resolution to the UN to resume talks with the Royal Government of Cambodia, and requested that the RGC show flexibility in its dealings with the international community. After much negotiation and diplomacy, its proposal for the tribunal was entirely adopted on May 2, 2003.
Last February, the Japanese government decided to make a voluntary contribution of $18.5 million to support the Khmer Rouge tribunal, in addition to the $3 million it had already approved in 2004.
Japan’s pledge, which had reached $21.6 million, recently increased by an additional $11.8 million.
Japan also nominated a lawyer from Tokyo University to serve as a judge during the tribunal process.
Currently, one of Japan’s main objectives is to gain a seat on the UN Security Council. In order to accomplish this objective, Japan has to play a very active role in world issues, which include Cambodia.
Based on this interpretation, I can assume that Japan has been using its economic assistance resources, called “grant aid,” in Cambodia to reach its main objectives at the UN. 


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