Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cambodia denies backing Japan's plan to enhance military role

The Cambodia Herald - July 1, 2014

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) -- Cambodia vehemently denied that it has supported Japan's plan to enhance its military role, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

"The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wishes to strongly reject the recent publications of Kyodo News Agency and Vietnam News Agency for having misquoted the remarks made by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong after official talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on June 30," said the official statement posted on the ministry's website.

"During the talks and joint press briefing, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong did not at all mention the terms "Self- Defense Forces" or "Collective Self-Defense Right," it said.

The statement said with regard to regional issues, Hor Namhong only said, "Cambodia supports Japan's peaceful policy, non-use of force, according to international law for the settlement of dispute in the region."

The denial came after Japan's Kyodo News Agency and Vietnam News Agency on Monday quoted visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as saying that "Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong expressed support for Japan's plan to give its Self- Defense Forces a greater role to contribute to global peace and stability."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to obtain Cabinet approval Tuesday for reinterpreting the pacifist Constitution to permit Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. If the pacifist Constitution is amended, it will allow Japanese troops, known as the Self-Defense Forces, to assist its allies even though Japan itself is not under attack.

For over six decades, Japan's traditional interpretation of its constitution has prohibited the country from exercising its right to collective self-defense and the use of force.

Chheang Vannarith, a senior researcher of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said Japan's revised security policy will further complicate regional security environment and hurt relations between Japan and its neighbors.

"The majority of Asian countries wish to see Japan not to amend its pacifist constitution," said Vannarith, who is also a lecturer of Asia Pacific Studies at University of Leeds in Britain.

Sok Touch, deputy director general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia's International Relations Institute, said Abe has intention to build a greater military role in the region.

"Abe's plan clearly shows that Japan is keen to use military forces legally again after it lost in World War II," he said. "It is a concern for Asia because Japan is capable to produce between 20 and 30 nuclear weapons a month due to its resources and expertise." 

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Gov’t rejects reports of Japan quote
The Phnom Penh Post - Wed, 2 July 2014
Kevin Ponniah

The Foreign Ministry moved yesterday to quash Japanese and Vietnamese media reports that said Foreign Minister Hor Namhong had pledged Cambodia’s support for Japanese efforts to remove restrictions on its military.

Japan’s cabinet approved the changes to its security policy yesterday, which now allows “collective self-defence”, meaning the country’s armed forces can fight to defend its allies.

The change required a reinterpretation of its pacifist postwar constitution.

China – Cambodia’s largest investor – opposes the move.

Yesterday’s statement says the Foreign Ministry wished to “strongly reject” reports from the Kyodo News Agency and Vietnamplus News Agency, which reported on Monday that Namhong had told visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida that Cambodia backed the move.

Namhong “did not at all mentioned [sic] the terms ‘Self-Defence Forces’ or Collective Self-Defence Right[s]” during official talks, the statement says.

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