What comes to your mind when you think of Cambodia?
You might think of: the long lasted civil war, a peacekeeping operation by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNCTAC), Angkor Wat of the World Heritage, or the etymology of "kabocha (a pumpkin in Japanese)" for some Japanese people. There are many things, but most people would first think of Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is one of the largest stone temples in Southeast Asia and also the largest religious monument in the world. Angkor Wat was built by the Khmer Empire, which emerged in the 9th century (in 802) and ended with the fall of Angkor in the 15th century (in 1431) by Ayutthaya dynasty established in Thailand. The Khmer Empire had the largest influence in the region between 12th to 13th centuries, with its territory stretching from the current Laos, Thailand, Malay Peninsula, Vietnam to China. Indeed, Angkor Wat, a capital of the Khmer Empire, was the center of the politics, economy, religion and culture of the region at that time.
If you visit Angkor Wat, you will find a number of reliefs depicting the story of the battle with Champa and Siam from neighboring countries, and the dramatic stories of Mahabharata and Ramayana, and also beautiful statues of Vishnu and other Hindu origin gods. Even after hundreds of years, Angkor Wat clearly tells us the strong geopolitical position and history of Cambodia in "Asia," which includes South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia.
Today also, Cambodia is located in a geopolitically strategic position. It is located almost in the center of the ASEAN countries, sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam, emerging economies in Asia. Cambodia is an important node of the Southern Economic Corridor that connects ASEAN countries by land. At the same time, it faces Indo-Pacific sea lanes, to which the Government of Japan aims to foster regional stability and prosperity by improving connectivity between Asia and Africa through a "free and open Indo-Pacific vision".
According to overseas opinion poll on Japan, conducted by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2019, Japan is ranked number one in the most reliable countries in Cambodia, higher than any other countries. This trust toward Japan from the Cambodian people is an important asset that has been built by many people who have been working across the two countries Cambodia and Japan for years. I am strongly committed to work for further enhancing the asset of trust by successful implementation of JICA's projects in Cambodia, which aims at assisting Cambodia's efforts for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In our efforts of development assistance to Cambodia, JICA will work with all development partners including NGOs, academics, private sectors, and governments, both of Japanese and international, and above all, Cambodian partners. With collective efforts of all partners, I am sure that Cambodia will achieve SDGs.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Chief Representative, JICA Cambodia Office