Japanese Bookseller Places Angkor Wat in Vietnam

A Japanese publisher has withdrawn from circulation a Vietnam language textbook that pictured Angkor Wat on the front cover following a protest from the Cambodian Embassy in Japan, according to an official.

Sim Virak, first secretary at the Cambodian Embassy in Japan, said in a Facebook message that the embassy lodged a protest with Asuka Publishing Company after being notified of the error by Cambodians living in Japan.

“The company apologized for their mistakes and for hurting Cambodian people,” he wrote. “The company will stop their sale until a new cover design is ready.”

Eiichi Ishino, director of Asuka Publishing Co., apologized for the mistake in a statement dated July 14 and posted on the company’s website. He attributed the blunder to inadequate pre-publication checks.

Pa Chanroeun, the director of the Cambodian Center for Applied Philosophy and Ethics, who has shared a picture of the textbook widely on Facebook, said the misuse of Cambodia’s national icon was particularly sensitive given the country’s historical tensions with Vietnam.

“[Every nation] is always unhappy to see…their core values being used inappropriately,” he said.

“When using a representation of a country’s identity, one must be careful, especially among nations that have a bitter history together.”

Yoshihiro Higuchi, minister at the Embassy of Japan in Phnom Penh, said in an email that the embassy was not in a position to comment on the activities of a private company.

“For past decades, Japan and Cambodia have steadily developed and strengthened the bilateral relations at various levels and fields, not only in the areas of  government-to-government relation but also business-to-business and people-to-people cooperation, which, Japan believes, will continue in the future,” he said.

Koem Oeurn, director of the Cambodian-Japanese Cooperation Center, said he did not wish to comment on the incident but he felt that the two countries enjoyed a positive relationship.

“The creation of this center [for example] shows that the government of Japan wants to contribute to the development of Cambodia,” he said.

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This article has been updated to reflect that the book was a language textbook, not a Vietnam guidebook.


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