Is the Japanese government using its aid to Cambodia to “harass” China, its major political and economic rival in Asia, as critics note?
Japan is the largest donor to the United Nations-backed trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia, whose regime in the 1970s was backed by China. The Khmer Rouge regime is held responsible for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians during nearly four years of rule, Kyodo News reports.
“Japan has no hidden agenda behind our assistance, which has been given for humanitarian and rule of law purposes,” according to a Japanese diplomat in Phnom Penh.
Chheang Vannarith, executive director of Phnom Penh-based Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, believes Japan has been focusing its aid on Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, to maintain its economic and political influence in the region.
Japan “is interested in balancing China’s rise,” Vannarith added.
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