Japan Former Finance Minister Promotes Science and Technology Forum

By Dr. Virak Prum

On March 5, 2010, the University of Cambodia (UC) received a distinguished delegation led by Japan’s former Finance Minister, H.E. Dr. Koji Omi, who was conferred an honorary doctorate from UC in 2007 in recognition for his lifelong achievements in the humanities.

Dr. Omi is the founder and chairman of the world’s renown “Science and Technology in Society Forum,” held every year in October. The primary purpose of the visit was to raise awareness of the Forum in Asia and to reiterate the Forum’s deep desire in having more Asian scientists attend it. Dr. Omi pointed out that only 8% of the participants at last year’s Forum were from Asia, despite Asia becoming a leading force in the world economy and scientific research.

In response to the chairman’s invitation, UC President H.E. Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, who has twice attended the Forum, warmly welcomed the suggestion and promised to help raise the Forum’s profile within government, business, and academic circles in Cambodia. Dr. Kao strongly hopes that at least one representative of UC will be able to attend the Forum in the near future.

Given Dr. Kao’s official position as the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the discussion went further to include Dr. Omi’s overall strategic plan to encourage ASEAN participation in the Forum’s activities, to which Dr. Kao gave his full support. Apart from suggesting that the Forum invite the ASEAN Secretary General to attend the gathering, Dr. Kao expressed his wish to organize an annual Science Fair in Cambodia where students will compete using their own creative works, a plan Dr. Omi noted with interest. After the meeting at UC, Dr. Omi met with Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Sok Ann and Senior Minister H.E. Cham Prasith, and also agreed to give an exclusive interview with SEATV on the following day to further expand on his mission to Asia.

The Japanese delegation included several notable figures, namely H.E. Mr. Katori, Japan’s Ambassador to ASEAN; Mr. Chujo, Counselor at the Japanese Embassy; Mr. Fukuda, Director of the Japan International Science & Technology Exchange Center (JISTEC); and Mr. Nakatani, Second Secretary at the Japanese Embassy.