Japanese Foreign Minister promises Cambodian PM to help ASEAN over Myanmar

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi promised Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday that Japan would support the efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to improve the situation in junta-held Myanmar.

During their meeting in Phnom Penh, Hayashi expressed his “serious concern” over the executions of four Burmese, including two pro-democracy activists, announced last week by the military government that took power in the South Asian country. Southeast during a coup in February 2021, according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hun Sen told Hayashi that Cambodia would work with Japan to break the deadlock in Myanmar, while showing gratitude for Tokyo’s unwavering support, the ministry said.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi (L) and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen shake hands in Phnom Penh on August 6, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Japanese Foreign Ministry) (Kyodo)

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As ASEAN chair this year, Cambodia has engaged in active diplomacy to tackle the issue of Myanmar where the junta continues its violent crackdown on people calling for democracy. Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn visited Myanmar twice earlier this year as an ASEAN special envoy to meet with senior military officials.

During his visits, however, Prak Sokhonn was unable to meet Aung San Suu Kyi, who had led Myanmar’s elected government but was ousted in the coup and remains in detention.

Hayashi and Hun Sen also exchanged views on rising tensions over Taiwan, the ministry said, but did not elaborate.

China, which views the self-governing island as a renegade province to be reunited with the mainland, began military exercises near Taiwan on Thursday in response to the recent visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Later on Saturday, Hayashi also met with Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith. The two nations have said they will promote people-to-people and cultural exchanges, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

The meetings were held on the sidelines of ASEAN-related foreign ministers’ meetings held in the Cambodian capital from Wednesday.