DIPLOMATIC DOCUMENTS: All-out effort led to Cambodia peace conference in Tokyo in 1990

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DIPLOMATIC DOCUMENTS: All-out effort led to Cambodia peace conference in Tokyo in 1990

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DIPLOMATIC DOCUMENTS: All-out effort led to Cambodia peace conference in Tokyo in 1990
By HIROKI KOIZUMI/ Staff Writer
December 28, 2021 at 07:00 JST

For the first time after the end of World War II, Japan took the spotlight on the international stage as a mediator by hosting talks for a third country in 1990.

Diplomatic documents released on Dec. 22 reveal the intense and determined efforts of Japanese diplomats behind the scenes to arrange a Cambodia peace conference in Tokyo.

The hosting helped Japan change its image as seen by other nations as an economic power that only contributed financially to benefit the world.

According to the documents, on April 19, 1990, Masaharu Kono, director of the first Southeast Asia division of the Foreign Ministry, sent an official telegram to Tadashi Ikeda, then minister in the Japanese Embassy in Thailand, who was also in charge of Cambodia.

In the telegram, Kono talked about his passion for hosting the peace talks in Tokyo to Ikeda.

“It could be the first peace conference held in Japan in our history,” Kono said.

Former colonial power France was making efforts to bring about peace in Cambodia, where a civil war had raged since the 1970s, but was facing a difficult situation.

Kono’s telegram was filled with tension and exaltations as Japanese diplomacy was heading into unknown territory following the end of the Cold War in the previous year.

“The prospect of a conference is totally unpredictable as of now, but I am seeking for one to produce concrete achievements that will be positive steps toward peace,” Kono said.

Prior to the telegram, a Japan and Thailand summit was held at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on April 7, 1990. 

At that discussion, Thai Prime Minister Chatichai Choonhavan proposed holding peace talks for Cambodia in Tokyo.

The participants would be Cambodian Prime Minister HE, leading the pro-Vietnam government, and Norodom Sihanouk, leader of the three-faction anti-Vietnam coalition. Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu accepted the proposal.

Kono told Ikeda that he had initiated the proposal.

“Both countries’ same intentions were described in a meeting with the Thai prime minister advisory group the previous night before the summit. The conclusion was withdrawn from the communications at the summit,” he said.

Kono and Ikeda became preoccupied with their efforts to bring the Cambodian prime minister and Sihanouk together in Japan.

But on May 7, 1990, Sihanouk suddenly announced in Beijing, “I won’t get involved with politics or war anymore, so I can’t visit Japan.”

The Foreign Ministry worked hard to change Sihanouk’s mind.

On May 8, 1990, the Japanese foreign minister sent a telegram to the Japanese Embassy in China, saying that, “the Japanese government has already been preparing for Sihanouk’s visit to Japan with the utmost care, such as arranging a meeting with the emperor and talks with Kaifu.”

On May 22, 1990, Sihanouk met Ikeda in Cambodia, and said, “I am truly impressed by the Japanese government’s friendship toward me, such as the recent visit to Beijing and this visit. In return, I will hold talks with HE and sign the document if we reach an agreement.”
Full article: https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14509600
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Re: DIPLOMATIC DOCUMENTS: All-out effort led to Cambodia peace conference in Tokyo in 1990

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30th Anniversary of Japan’s PKO in Cambodia to be Commemorated This Year
AKP Phnom Penh, January 10, 2022 --

Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HE this morning congratulated the 30th anniversary of Japan's contribution to UN Peacekeeping Operations (PKO) in Cambodia in the early 1990s.

Addressing to the inauguration ceremony of the Battambang-Serey Sophorn road portion of nearly 85 kilometres long, Samdech Techo HE expressed profound thanks to Japan for its contribution to the peace negotiation process in the 1980s, and the first Japan’s PKO mission in Cambodia in the 1990s.

The Premier also extended his sincere condolences to the two-Japanese nationals who have sacrificed their lives in Cambodia.

“2022 is the 30th anniversary of Japan’s PKO in Cambodia, we should organise some special activities to commemorate this historical event,” he underlined, mentioning about the upcoming docking of Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force ship in Cambodia.

Samdech Techo HE also took the opportunity to thank the Japanese people and government for their active contribution to the development of Cambodia.

Personnel of the Japan Self-Defence Forces were dispatched to UNTAC as cease-fire observers. Eight personnel were dispatched from September 1992 to March 1993; a second contingent of eight personnel was dispatched from March to September 1993. They conducted their duties in teams with peacekeepers from other countries. Their mission was to monitor the cease-fire and to supervise encampments storing weapons collected from disarmed Cambodian soldiers of all factions. They also monitored the cease-fire at checkpoints along the border and monitored any infiltration of other forces and smuggling of weapons and ammunition. Besides there were civilian police officers, engineering contingents, and so on.
- AKP
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