Japan Hopes for Fair 2023 Election

Masahiro expressed his hope during a farewell meeting with acting Prime Minister Sar Kheng on Dec. 13 at the National Assembly.​ Photo: Ministry of Interior

PHNOM PENH – Outgoing Japanese Ambassador Mikami Masahiro hopes Cambodia’s 2023 election is highly successful as Japan continues to support the process.

Masahiro expressed his hope during a farewell meeting with acting Prime Minister Sar Kheng on Dec. 13 at the National Assembly.​ His election wishes were posted on Kheng’s Facebook page on Dec. 13.

Sar Kheng said that during Masahiro’s diplomatic mission, Japan has assisted Cambodia in many areas, including the conduct of previous elections while Japan is continuing to support the 2023 election.

NEC spokesperson Hang Puthea said Japan had given technical help and cooperated with NEC to educate people and disseminate information about the election.

Cambodia has not received any international financial aid for the election. The country had prepared a national budget for the poll.

“Cambodia is a country with territorial integrity, so whether or not we receive assistance is not a problem,” said Putea. “Cambodia is still able to carry out the election process in accordance with the law.”

Asked how the NEC will respond to Japan’s hope of a free and fair election, he said that not only Japan but other international entities as well as Cambodia want the election to be conducted fairly and freely.

Fair and free elections did not rely on other countries but on Cambodian citizens and political parties.

Any election was reflected by local votes and should ensure that citizens live in peace and accept the results, Putea said.

The Japanese Embassy could not be reached for comment.

During the Japan-Cambodia Summit on Nov. 12, PM Hun Sen assured Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio that he “will make efforts to hold free and fair elections.”

Fumio said the elections next year should be free and fair and represent the various viewpoints of the Cambodian people. He also pledged that Japan would continue to support Cambodia's democratic development.

Japan provided over 10,000 ballot boxes worth $7.5 million for the 2018 election after the European Union and the United States backed out following the dissolution of the CNRP main opposition party.

The NEC announced on Dec. 8 that 577,550 new people, including 288,551 women, had registered to vote after a 50-day campaign ended the same day. Previously, 258,372 people had their names crossed off the list as a result of passing away or moving to another commune.

According to preliminary NEC estimates, the number of voters for 2022 and 2023 should nearly reach 10,9 million people, compared with 9.2 million in 2021.

The national election will take place on July 23. The NEC estimates that organizing the vote will cost $50 million, while 23,760 polling stations are estimated to be set up nationwide.

In June 2022, an estimated seven million people cast their vote for the 5th commune elections, an 80.19 percent turnout.

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