First Japanese-Language Newspaper Launches

Cambodia’s first Japanese-language newspaper launched in Phnom Penh on Wednesday as a free, monthly publication—with its main aim to promote Cambodia as a place to do business to Japanese people living in Burma.

The Phnom Penh Press Neo, a 20-page full-color newspaper published as the sister paper to Burma’s first Japanese newspaper, the Yangon Press, was set up with an investment of $80,000 and features news on Cambodia’s business community and economy along with information on where to eat and stay, and how to get around Phnom Penh.

Copies of the Japanese-language Phnom Penh Press Neo lie on a table at the Sushi Garden restaurant in Phnom Penh. (Neou Vannarin/The Cambodia Daily)
Copies of the Japanese-language Phnom Penh Press Neo lie on a table at the Sushi Garden restaurant in Phnom Penh. (Neou Vannarin/The Cambodia Daily)

Seu Songhy, a translator for the Phnom Penh Press Neo, said 5,000 copies of the newspaper have been distributed in restaurants, hotels and bars in Phnom Penh and the country’s two main airports, plus a further 20,000 copies in Burma, where the publication also launched on Wednesday.

“There are a lot of Japanese people in Burma interested in Cambodia and they want to know about real estate and business news, because there is no information on that for them,” Mr. Songhy said.

The company is considering launching the Burma edition in Cambodia sometime next year to give Japanese people living in Cambodia a similar insight into their emerging Southeast Asian neighbor.

Asked if the newspaper will touch on any thorny issues related to politics or labor unrest, Mr. Songhy balked.

“No, no, no. Because we aim on business, and for Japanese, we don’t want to make the newspaper related [to] politics because they are interested in business only,” he said.

But for some Japanese living in Cambodia, it appears the newspaper will serve as an advertising medium rather than a way to keep up with the latest news.

Hirotaka Osada, manager of the Yuzu Japanese Bar in Phnom Penh, said with many free magazines already available, and based on the content of the newspaper’s first edition, it will struggle to catch the interest of readers living here.

“We already have in Cambodia a lot of free Japanese magazines. So it may not make much difference to people but it can grow,” Mr. Osada said, adding that he would be more interested in advertising in the publication rather than reading it.

Lank Chen, the owner of a newsstand near Wat Langka, said the demand for Japanese newspapers is almost nonexistent, expressing shock when reporters asked him if he stocked the paper.

“You are the first person in three years who has asked for a Japanese newspaper,” Mr. Chen said.

“I don’t think people will read Japanese newspapers—tourists perhaps.”

(Additional reporting by Neou Vannarin)

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