Japanese Envoy Praises Cambodia over Nuclear Row Seafood

Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Ueno Atsushi speaks during roundtable on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Japan. Photo:Club of Cambodian Journalist

PHNOM PENH – Japan’s Ambassador has expressed appreciation to Cambodia for not restricting seafood imports from his country following the release of treated radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The discharge on Aug. 24 angered Japanese neighbors, including China and South Korea, with Beijing restricting all seafood imports from Japan.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce said last month the country would not apply any restriction.

Ministry spokesman Pen Sovichet said Japan had complied with the technical specifications and obtained the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency before releasing the water into the sea.

Ambassador Ueno Atsushi told a roundtable marking 70 years of diplomatic relations that Japan appreciated the decision not to impose any restrictions. He said he understood that this was not an easy decision to make.

“This decision made by Cambodia created a big positive sentiment among Japanese people that Cambodia is still our dear friend,” he said.

“I reported the decision immediately back to Tokyo, to the high level inside government.”

Asked about Cambodia’s stance on China, Atsushi said Japan doesn’t want Cambodia to take sides and fully respects Cambodian foreign policies of neutrality, non-alignment and balanced diplomacy.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia imported about $680,000 worth of seafood from Japan in 2021 and more than $1.1 million in 2022.

The ambassador said the comprehensive strategic partnership between Japan and Cambodia, which was elevated this year, not only cemented ties but was a relationship in which the two countries can work together to resolve regional and international issues.

The envoy said that Prime Minister Hun Manet would visit Japan in December to attend a commemorative summit between ASEAN and Japan and the Embassy will do its utmost to make the visit fruitful.

Atsushi said that during the December meeting, Japan planned to hold an investment forum to provide opportunities for Japanese investors to get to know Cambodia better and benefit from investing in Cambodia.

According to the Japanese Embassy, in the last 10 years, Japan’s exports to Cambodia amounted to more than $3 billion, while Cambodia’s exports to Japan topped $10 billion. Goods exported to Japan include shirts, shoes, leather goods and electronics.

In terms of grants, Japan had provided about $1.58 billion to Cambodia and $1.56 billion in loans by the end of March last year.

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