Japan has signed a grant and loan agreement with Cambodia totaling more than U.S. $90 million, despite concerns from the international community over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s crackdown on government critics.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono and Cambodian Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn signed the U.S. $4.6 million grant and U.S. $86 million loan, for economic and electricity transmission projects, in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, in April 2018.

The main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved in November 2017 at the request of the government, prompting some Western countries to condemn the crackdown, cut aid and impose visa bans on some ruling party members.

Rights groups and members of the opposition have urged Tokyo to take a stronger stance against Hun Sen, but Japan has said it would continue to provide election support and would not interfere in what it said were Cambodia’s internal affairs.

Hun Sen praised Japan for its financial assistance but lashed out at critics.

“While Japan, a friend, is providing assistance to Cambodia, some bad people can poison the news as bad as they did,” Hun Sen said on his Facebook page.

During a meeting with Hun Sen, Kono said Japan would help Cambodia to become an upper-middle-income country by 2030, said Hun Sen’s aide Eang Sophalleth.

In a recent statement, Kentaro Sonoura, advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, urged Cambodia’s political rivals to hold talks to end the political crisis.  Reuters