Two Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force warships arrived in Cambodian waters yesterday as part of preparations to commemorate the anniversary of Japan’s peacekeeping mission in Cambodia.
Defense Ministry spokesman General Chhum Suchheat said yesterday that during their stay, JSDF representatives will visit Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province.
“JSDF warships will dock at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port from March 14 to 17 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Japan’s peacekeeping operation in Cambodia,” he said.
Gen Suchet said one of the warships is URAGA-463, a minesweeper 141 meters long, 5.4 meters deep and weighing 5,650 metric tons. It has a crew of 126 men and women.
The second ship is the HIRADO-305 which is 67 meters long, 11 meters wide and 2.7 meters deep. It weighs 690 metric tons and has a crew of 54 men and women.
“Both ships are under the command of Captain Noguchi Yasushi, the commander of the 1st Indo-Pacific Mine Action Division,” Gen. Suchheat added.
He also said that Prime Minister Hun Sen is to come to Sihanoukville to welcome the Japanese sailors and participate
at a banquet with them today at the Sokha Hotel.
Kin Phea, director general of the Institute of International Relations of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said yesterday that the JSDF’s presence in Cambodia for the 30th anniversary of Japan’s peacekeeping operation in Cambodia shows that the cooperation between the two nations has been very deep and comprehensive for a long time.
“This cooperation is growing day by day. It is based on mutual respect for sovereignty and mutual understanding. Japan is an important country that has helped Cambodia find peace, especially the reconstruction and development of Cambodia,” Phea said.
He also said the JSDF’s visit to Ream Naval Base could help explain to the world that there is no Chinese military base there, as claimed by a Western country.
After the World War II victory over Japanese military rule, the United States imposed a constitution on Japan in which Article 9 prohibited it from raising an armed force. However, Japan is allowed to have “self-defense forces”.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, in 1992 Japan was allowed to send its peacekeepers to Cambodia. It was the first time the Self-Defense Force had been deployed outside of Japan.
“Eight staff members were sent from September 1992 to March 1993; a second contingent of eight people was sent from March to September 1993. They performed their duties in teams with peacekeepers from other countries,” the ministry said.
He added that the mission of Japanese peacekeepers at the time was to monitor the ceasefire and oversee the stockpile of weapons collected from all Cambodian factions. They were also to monitor the ceasefire along the border and watch for any infiltration of other forces and the smuggling of arms and ammunition along the border.