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Japan, Cambodia to boost cooperation on maritime security


Japan and Cambodia agreed during their summit Saturday that they will seek to enhance maritime security by establishing the principle of the rule of law to settle disputes in the Asia-Pacific region.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen also decided to advance cooperation between their defense authorities and work together to improve health and medical care in Cambodia, according to a joint statement released after their meeting in Phnom Penh.

The two leaders "underscored the importance of settling maritime disputes by peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international order to establish the principle of the rule of the law in the Asia-Pacific region," the statement said.

The document reflects territorial rows between China and some Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea as well as one between China and Japan in the East China Sea.

The first trip to Cambodia, which has close ties with China, by a Japanese prime minister in 13 years is believed to be aimed at keeping Beijing in check.

Abe and Hun Sen also agreed that Japan will assist capacity building of Cambodian peacekeeping officers based on its activities since 1992.

Cambodia is the first country where a Japanese mission consisting of Self-Defense Forces, police officers and election observers joined U.N. peacekeeping operations.

The two leaders also agreed that Japan will utilize its advanced medical technologies and systems to help improve health and medical care in Cambodia.

Abe told Hun Sen that Japan will launch a hospital providing emergency care in Cambodia in March 2015, which will be constructed at a cost of 4 billion yen with investment from a government-linked fund, engineering firm JGC Corp. and Kitahara International Hospital based in Hachioji in the suburbs of Tokyo.

The two leaders shared the view that "further improvement of investment environment in Cambodia is essential for facilitating more investment" and Hun Sen expressed hope "to see the participation of Japanese companies in the development of advanced urban infrastructure in the medium to long term," the joint statement said.

Abe "elaborated his security policy to proactively contribute to the peace and stability in the region and the international community" and Hun Sen "highly praised Japan's achievement as a peaceful nation and supported Japan's further contribution," according to the document.

Referring to massive damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines last week, Abe said he will consider setting up a framework in which Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will jointly respond to large-scale disasters, Japanese officials said.

To help Cambodia remove landmines scattered throughout the country during the civil war, Abe pledged 500 million yen aid for demining activities, according to Cambodian officials.

The Japanese premier also said Tokyo will donate $1.8 million for a U.N.-backed tribunal trying former Khmer Rouge leaders, the Cambodian officials added.

On North Korea, the two leaders decided to cooperate with each other toward the resolution of Pyongyang's past abductions of Japanese nationals.

Hun Sen confirmed his participation in a special summit between Japan and the 10 ASEAN members slated for Dec. 13 to 15 in Tokyo to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two sides.

The Japanese leader later paid a courtesy call on Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.

Abe is visiting Cambodia on the first leg of a two-day trip that will also take him to Laos. After flying to Vientiane on Sunday, Abe is scheduled to hold separate meetings with Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and President Choummaly Sayasone.

His visit to Laos follows one by his predecessor Yoshihiko Noda in November last year for the Asia-Europe Meeting summit.

With the trip, Abe will have visited all 10 ASEAN nations since taking office last December.