Japan’s foreign minister said Tuesday her country would send at least one judge for the impending Khmer Rouge trial and was ready to start the initial stages of bridge construction over the Mekong River at Prey Veng province’s Peam Ro district.
Speaking to a rapt audience of Cambodian students and parliamentarians at Chaktomuk Theater, Yoriko Kawaguchi said Japan “stands fast with Cambodia’s commitment to bring the Khmer Rouge tribunal into being.”
“Japan will continue fulfilling a central role in this process by sending a judge and secretariats as well as by supplementing the necessary expenditure of the UN,” said Kawaguchi, who is in Cambodia for the Asean meetings.
“Japan is ready to start its feasibility studies on a construction plan for a new bridge at Neak Leung,” Kawaguchi said.
Crossings of the Mekong at Neak Leung are currently serviced by a ferry. Japan has already built one bridge in Kompong Cham province, helping to connect by road the remote provinces of Kratie and Mondolkiri to Phnom Penh.
The two bridges form an essential link in two “corridors” that will connect Cambodia to Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma.
“In the not too distant future, goods, services and people will travel briskly across the borders throughout the Greater Mekong Subregion,” she said.
Also on Tuesday, officials announced that the Cambodian Mine Action Center will receive demining equipment as part of a $6.65 million grant from the Japanese government.
The gift, to be delivered today, is the third phase of a Japanese demining program in Cambodia, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The grant will fund the purchase of mine detectors, protection vests, tents for mobile units and brush-cutters, according to a news release.
Kawaguchi signed a separate agreement with Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Tuesday at the Inter-Continental Hotel pledging technical assistance to Cambodia.
Kawaguchi also held talks with her Chinese and South Korean counterparts on the need for the inclusion of South Korea and China in talks between North Korea, the US and China on the North’s nuclear weapons program, Japan’s foreign ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said.
“We’d like to see the Beijing process continue with the participation of Japan [and South Korea]…. We are the most concerned parties with this issue,” she said. “Multilateral talks are essential.”
Japan also discussed the need for continued vigilance against severe acute respiratory syndrome and pressed China to consider Japanese plans for a rapid transit train system to run from Beijing to Shanghai.
“We strongly hope that China would adopt a Japanese model of the bullet train,” Takashima said.
Japanese companies are currently competing for the project with European companies, Takashima said.
(Additional reporting by Luke Reynolds)