New Japanese Ambassador Gotaro Ogawa urged Monday that Cambodia set up a tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders quickly and take more initiatives to lead reforms and development projects.
“I am pleased to see the quick passage of the Khmer Rouge tribunal law at the National Assembly,” said Ogawa at a New Year reception at his ambassadorial residence.
Although lawmakers should have debated the law more thoroughly, Ogawa said, its passage is significant because it moves Cambodia one step closer to bringing justice for those killed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
“The Khmer Rouge tribunal is the largest issue on which the international community and Cambodia work together,” Ogawa said. “I hope that the tribunal will start as soon as possible.”
Ogawa, former consul general to the US state of Hawaii, assumed his ambassadorship one month ago, replacing Masaki Saito who ended his three-year mandate here.
Japan is the single-largest donor country to Cambodia. Since 1992, Japan has given Cambodia more than $860 million, including $138 million pledged at the Consultative Group meeting in Paris last year.
But in recent months the Japanese government has debated cutting its Official Development Assistance by as much as 30 percent, and there is some concern Japan’s aid to Cambodia will be reduced as well.
“Cambodia just started reconstructing its country. Any aid to Cambodia should not be cut,” Ogawa said, adding that the embassy has urged Tokyo to continue support.
However, Cambodia still needs to improve its stability and security. And the Cambodian government should take more initiative in leading its own reform efforts, he said.
“It should be the Cambodian government coordinating all the projects supported by the international community,” he said. “Cambodia should have the ownership of them.”