Libmonster ID: JP-1301
Author(s) of the publication: O. A. DOBRINSKAYA

Post-Soviet Central Asia (CA) occupies an important place in Tokyo's plans aimed at ensuring Japan's energy security and increasing the country's role in regional and global politics. Tokyo's policy in this region is also significantly influenced by such factors as rivalry with China and the desire to provide all possible assistance, primarily economic, to the anti-terrorist coalition led by Japan's military and political ally, the United States, in the war in Afghanistan.

Speaking in February 2010 with a keynote address to the participants of the 4th Tokyo Dialogue-an intellectual discussion within the framework of the "Central Asia + Japan" dialogue, Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Fukuyama stated:: "The geopolitical importance of Central Asia, located between Russia and China and adjacent to Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, is growing. Since the area is rich in energy resources, including oil and natural gas, as well as mineral resources such as uranium and rare metals, it attracts great attention from the point of view of international energy security. ...Stability in the region, which includes Central Asia, neighboring Afghanistan and the surrounding countries, is one of the most important tasks for the international community. " 1

In June 2008, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev paid an official visit to Japan, during which a Joint Statement on further development of friendship, Partnership and cooperation was signed. President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov paid a similar visit in February 2011. In this regard, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan stated: "Uzbekistan is a very important country in the region ... a very important country for Japan from a geopolitical point of view and at the same time a strategically important partner in terms of energy resources and mineral resources."2


After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Japan immediately established diplomatic relations with the former Central Asian republics of the USSR: this happened already in January 1992.

At the initial stage of the formation of the new states of post-Soviet Central Asia, Tokyo provided them with economic assistance with loans and grants and lobbied for their entry into international financial and trade organizations. With its help, they became members of the Asian Development Bank, and Kyrgyzstan joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Japan's foreign policy strategy for post-Soviet Central Asia was conceptualized in the second half of the 1990s. In the doctrine of Eurasian Diplomacy, put forward in 1997 by Prime Minister R. Hashimoto, along with Russia and China, the region of Central Asia and the Caucasus was first mentioned as an object of interest to Japan. Tokyo's policy towards the countries of this region is called "Silk Road Diplomacy".

The main areas of cooperation between Japan and the Central Asian states were declared to be: political dialogue, economic cooperation and cooperation in the development of natural resources, achieving peace in the region through strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, democratization and stabilization3.

Since the early 2000s, Japan's approach to Central Asia has been rethought. The terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, played a major role in this.

First, they highlighted the importance of combating international terrorism for strengthening regional security. Japan itself has already faced this problem: in 1998, UN observers were killed in Tajikistan, including a well-known Japanese professor and public figure Yu. Akino, and in 1999, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) took Japanese citizens hostage in Kyrgyzstan.

Tokyo has taken unprecedented steps to help the anti-terrorist coalition, including taking on the role of one of the leaders in promoting the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The implementation of these plans required strengthening relations with the Central Asian states, 3 of which share borders with Afghanistan.

Secondly, the rapprochement of the region's countries with the United States contributed to a more active penetration of the Japanese into Central Asia. Thus, following the proclamation of the strategic partnership between Uzbekistan and the United States in March 2002, the same relations were established with Tashkent and Japan.

Third, from a geopolitical point of view, an important event was the formation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in June 2001.-

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lo is the concern of Tokyo and Washington because of their fears of increasing Chinese influence in the region.

A significant role in the activation of Tokyo's policy in Central Asia was played by economic interests, primarily related to ensuring Japan's energy security.

Japan, which depends almost entirely on oil imports from the Middle East, has long sought to diversify its suppliers of this type of hydrocarbon. The situation that developed in the first half of the 2000s made the search for new exporters even more urgent. In particular, Japan's support for US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which were ambiguously perceived in the Islamic world, could not but affect Tokyo's relations with Arab countries.

At the same time, Japan lost the opportunity to operate concessions in the neutral zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (in 1996, the division of this zone was carried out, but both Gulf countries continued to share oil and other natural resources), and under pressure from the United States, it was forced to reduce energy cooperation with Iran, which was one of its leading suppliers oil and gas.

In addition, Tokyo could not help but be concerned about the increased activity of China, as well as India and South Korea in the search for energy sources, including in Central Asia.

In April 2002, from the rostrum of the equivalent of the Taoist Forum - the Boao Asian Forum (on Hainan Island, China), Prime Minister Dz.Koizumi called for expanding cooperation with Central Asia, especially emphasizing the importance of cooperation in the field of energy4.

A few months later, the "Silk Road energy mission" went to the countries of the region. Its tasks included exploring opportunities for more active cooperation in the field of energy resources. At the same time, academic circles began discussing the need to boost relations with Central Asian countries.5

The formal beginning of a new stage of relations is connected with the initiative to conduct a dialogue "Central Asia plus Japan", put forward by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Y. Kawaguchi. The regional States reacted positively to this proposal.

The first meeting in this format was held in August 2004 in Astana. As a result, a joint statement was adopted, which proclaimed the principles of dialogue: respect for diversity, competition and interaction, open cooperation. The goals were to strengthen peace, stability and democracy in Central Asia, strengthen the foundations of the economy, promote reforms and social development, develop ties between the countries of the region and with the world community, and cooperate between Japan and the Central Asian countries in solving regional and global problems.6

Thus, for the first time, Tokyo's multilateral approach to the Central Asian republics was put forward. At the same time, the mechanism proposed by Japan is not considered as a substitute for bilateral cooperation, but rather complements and expands the possibilities of cooperation between Japan and the countries of the region.

Unlike R. Hashimoto's doctrine, the new initiative was aimed only at the Central Asian states (without the South Caucasus), which meant increasing their independent significance, as well as recognizing the fact that the possibilities for developing cooperation between Tokyo and Transcaucasia are very limited.

With the help of the dialogue, a platform was created for discussing common issues of the region, not only economic, but also political, as well as security issues. The existence of such a structure implies that the discussion of the problems of the Central Asian states will be held with the participation of Japan, which will allow Tokyo to participate in shaping the future fate of the region.

The Central Asian vector of Japanese foreign policy was further developed with the proclamation of the concept

page 46

"Central Asia as a corridor for Peace and Stability", put forward in June 2006 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, T. V. Putin. Aso (who later became Prime Minister). Its main principles are: a broad approach to the region, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, support for regional cooperation open to other States, and partnership based on" universal values " (democracy, market economy, human rights, rule of law). The emphasis on "values" borrowed from Washington reflected the further strengthening of allied relations between Japan and the United States, which resulted in the alignment of global strategic goals between the two countries.7

The concept of Central Asia as a corridor of peace and stability can be seen as a kind of regional offshoot of the broader semi-utopian concept of the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity", put forward by the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan as one of the pillars of Japanese foreign policy. It assumed the creation of a belt of states that adhere to "universal values". It was intended that this belt would run from Northern Europe through the Baltic States, Central and Southern Europe and, skirting Russia and China, cover the Caucasus and Central Asia, South Asia and Northeast Asia. 8

In the spirit of the new concept, the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of the Central Asia plus Japan Dialogue was held in 2006.

The main outcome of the meeting was the adoption of an Action Plan. This document more clearly defines the objectives of cooperation and defines its 5 areas: political dialogue and interaction between Japan and Central Asian countries in the international arena, regional cooperation on topical issues, business development, intellectual dialogue, as well as cultural and humanitarian exchanges. 9 The mechanism of multilateral cooperation gradually became clearer, and specific tasks were set. Within the framework of the dialogue, a permanent agenda has been created, in accordance with which further work is being built.

The ministerial meeting was attended by a representative of Afghanistan, which was connected with the discussion of the reconstruction of this country and the construction of the" southern route " passing through it.

It is worth noting that the SCO - Afghanistan contact group was established in 2005, and the desire of Japan, as an ally of the United States, to "keep up" in attracting this country to regional cooperation is quite understandable. It is possible that Pakistan may also join the dialogue in the future. It is obvious that the forum's agenda in principle presupposes the participation of these countries, although Japan does not refer them to the Central Asian region by geographical location. This is also evidenced by the fact that Tokyo strongly emphasizes the open nature of the dialogue.

The change of power in Japan in September 2009 (for the first time, the opposition Democratic Party of Japan won the election) did not affect the principled course of the Japanese government.

Moreover, after the proclamation in December 2009 by the President of the United States of B. * Cooperation with Central Asia has once again attracted the attention of the Japanese leadership.

This was confirmed by the 3rd meeting of the Dialogue's Foreign Ministers in August 2010, which took place after a four-year pause. The new leadership of Japan has indicated its intention to strengthen measures aimed at combating terrorism and drug trafficking, as well as allocate new loans for the restoration of infrastructure in the region.

Currently, the Central Asia plus Japan dialogue format provides for regular meetings of foreign ministers, as well as joint work of high-ranking officials (at the level of department directors). In the future, it is planned to hold a summit, that is, to reach the highest level. At the same time, work began on the "second track" - the so-called intellectual dialogue, which brought together prominent scientists and politicians. Many specialists are involved in shaping the agenda of multilateral cooperation, which makes it possible to increase the efficiency of this work and helps to bring the positions of the parties closer together.

* For more information, see: Rusakov Em. Knutom i pryanikom [Knutom and Pryanik] / / Asia and Africa Today, 2010, N 8.

page 47


The Japanese Government's conceptual guidelines for Central Asia are being implemented in practice.

For countries in the region that pursue a multi-vector foreign policy, Japan has become an attractive international partner. Japan and the Central Asian countries are bound by agreements on friendship and cooperation (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan), friendship, partnership and cooperation (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan), and on friendship, strategic partnership and cooperation (Uzbekistan).

The first-ever visit of a Japanese Prime Minister to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in August 2006 was an indication that Tokyo attaches great importance to relations with the countries of the region. Koizumi. As a result of this visit, the parties agreed to hold bilateral consultations at the level of foreign ministries on the situation in Asia.

One of the positive factors contributing to the successful development of political ties is that there are no unresolved international problems between Japan and the Central Asian countries. Tokyo also lacks negative "political baggage" in its relations with these countries, unlike, for example, in East Asia, where they still fear the revival of Japanese militarism.

It is extremely important for Tokyo that all countries in the region share its position on United Nations reform and support Japan's candidacy for permanent membership in the UN Security Council. In turn, the Central Asian states are interested in the assistance that this influential power can provide them in global and regional international structures.

Japan has repeatedly stated its readiness to introduce the experience of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries to the countries of the region. This would be possible through the creation of a mechanism for cooperation between Central Asia and ASEAN with the assistance of Japan. Such a scenario is not excluded, especially since not so long ago Kazakhstan turned to Tokyo with a proposal to assist in establishing cooperation with ASEAN. Thus, Japan could act as a link between the Central Asian countries and multilateral institutions in the Asia-Pacific region.

The interest of the states of the region in developing relations with Japan is also due to the fact that it actively encourages intraregional cooperation. The agenda of the "Central Asia plus Japan" dialogue involves solving common regional problems with the assistance of Tokyo. We are talking about the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking, problems of energy, water supply, and environmental protection. Japan's contribution to this process consists in creating a platform for joint discussion of non-military security issues, providing financial resources and sharing its experience, i.e. organizing relevant training seminars.

Tokyo has a positive attitude to the integration initiatives of the countries of the region. For example, he supported Kazakhstan's proposal to organize the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building Measures in Asia (CICA), participates in its work as an observer and may become a permanent participant in the CICA. The Japanese Government also welcomes Uzbekistan's idea of creating a common Central Asian market.

According to Tokyo, the need for Japan's presence in the region is largely dictated by its participation in the economic aspect of solving the "Afghan problem". As of November 2010, Japan has already allocated $2.49 billion, including about $ 1 billion, for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. - from the new 5-year $5 billion aid package that Tokyo announced in November 2009.10 And this participation allows Tokyo to realize its allied contribution to the anti-terrorist operation. In addition, the reconstruction of Afghanistan is an opportunity for Japan to prove itself in the international arena as one of the leaders in solving humanitarian and socio-economic problems.

The successful development of political relations with Central Asia is facilitated by Tokyo's policy of non-interference in the internal politics of Central Asian regimes and its rather soft position on human rights, which is quite acceptable to the leaders of the region's states.

This does not mean that Tokyo ignores this problem, but its approach is fundamentally different from that of other Western countries. For example, Japan reacted with restraint to the suppression of protests in Andijan (Uzbekistan) in 2005, while the European Union and the United States demanded an international investigation. In the context of the cooling of relations between the West and Uzbekistan, which came after these events, Dz. Koizumi became the first "Western" leader to visit Tashkent. One of the main topics on the agenda was democratization and ensuring human rights. Thus, Japan continues to raise the issue of democratization, but it does so without exerting pressure. During the Dz visit. Koizumi conveyed a message from the US President to Karimov, acting as a mediator during the cooling of US-Uzbek relations.


While the political relations between Japan and the Central Asian countries can be described as very advanced, their economic interaction is still a donor-recipient relationship.

Since the early 1990s, Official development Assistance (ODA) has been coming to Central Asia from Japan, both in the form of grants and loans. It is worth noting that Japan is the only country (except for Russia) that provides free development assistance to these countries. Japan accounts for about 30% of all global ODA allocated to the region. Thus, in 2008 alone, Japan allocated about $105 million to Central Asian countries.11

Gratuitous assistance from the Japanese Government-

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VA is directed mainly to the social sphere, to projects in the field of education and healthcare. Thus, Tokyo implements the concept of "personal security", which is one of the important components of Japanese diplomacy. Its goal is to create favorable socio-economic conditions for the life and development of the population. This activity contributes to the formation of a positive image of Japan in the region, as well as helps its claims to the role of one of the world leaders in solving humanitarian problems.

The main area of ODA lending is the restoration of infrastructure in order to create a network of transport arteries that allow for trade and economic activities. With the participation of Japan, airports in Bishkek, Astana, and Uzbekistan were modernized, the Bishkek-Osh road was restored, a bridge over the Irtysh River was built, and other projects were implemented.12 Japan is seeking to recreate the Silk Road routes that link the Central Asian states together, as well as provide them with access to the sea by connecting them with Afghanistan and Pakistan. This would create new opportunities for the economic development of the countries of the region, including for the implementation of energy projects, which Japan is so interested in.

Currently, the presence of Japanese companies in the oil and gas sector in Central Asia is very modest. Among the existing projects, we can mention the participation of Inpex (an international oil company with 50% participation of the Japan National Petroleum Corporation): its share in the North Caspian exploration project Agip KCO is 7.56 %13. Unlike China, Japan has not yet managed to achieve a more impressive scale of cooperation with the countries of the region in this area.

Japan has long shown interest in pipeline construction projects in Central Asia that would allow the transportation of hydrocarbons bypassing Russia. Back in 1997, Itochu Sekiyu Kaihatsu and Inpex joined an international consortium for the construction of a pipeline linking Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but work was soon suspended. The problem of ensuring the safety of the gas pipeline remains one of the main obstacles to its construction. The desire to push the implementation of this project is one of the main reasons for Japanese efforts to resolve the situation in Afghanistan and create a viable infrastructure linking Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asian countries. It can be assumed that after the signing of an agreement on the construction of a gas pipeline between Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India in 2010, Japanese companies will once again step up their activities in this area.

It is impossible not to pay attention to another aspect of Japan's commodity diplomacy in the region. Japan's Energy Strategy, adopted in 2006, set the goal of reducing oil dependence by increasing the share of nuclear power in energy production by 10%. This prompted Japan to pay attention to the Central Asian countries as sources of uranium. The previously mentioned Dz visit. Koizumi's visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in August 2006 was primarily motivated by the desire to establish cooperation in this area.

As a result of high-level agreements in the spring of 2007, Kazakhstan and Japan signed more than 20 contracts in the uranium field. The signing of the agreement between Japan and Kazakhstan on cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in March 2010 established the legislative framework for cooperation in the nuclear industry. Kazakhstan counts on Japan's assistance in reprocessing uranium fuel and building a light-water reactor.

In Uzbekistan, Japanese companies participate in joint projects for the exploration of uranium deposits and the extraction of uranium.

The accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant caused by the natural disaster temporarily reduced the activity of the Japanese in this area, but Japan cannot refuse to develop nuclear energy.

In addition to energy resources, Tokyo is also interested in other natural resources in the region. Japan is one of the largest importers of Central Asian gold. Also of considerable interest are the reserves of rare-earth metals, the import of which this country ranks 1st in the world, producing more than 50% of the world's high-tech products based on such metals. Cooperation with the countries of the region would reduce dependence on the supply of these resources from China. Tokyo's participation in the development of deposits and production of rare and rare-earth metals is also beneficial for Central Asian countries, as it contributes to their innovative development and creation of high-tech industries.

The importance of Japan as one of the leaders in the field of advanced technologies determines the interest of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Japanese know-how and attracting Japanese companies to develop mineral resources in the region. We can say that the mutually beneficial scheme "high technologies in exchange for natural resources" actually works.

However, in general, Japan's economic relations with the countries of the region are still developing rather slowly, with the exception of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan: as of November 2010, the trade turnover with them amounted to about $740 million and $220 million, respectively. 14 More or less significant indicators of investment cooperation are observed in Kazakhstan: from 1993 to 2008, Japanese capital investments amounted to about $5 billion 15. It can be expected that after the Agreement on Liberalization, Promotion and Protection of Investments between Japan and Uzbekistan enters into force in 2009, the presence of Japanese capital in this country will also increase.

But political risks, peculiarities of tax and tariff policy, corruption, specifics

page 49

Doing business in Central Asian countries remains a constraint for the Japanese business community.

Despite the fact that Japan's loans and grants still dominate economic relations with Central Asian countries, this model is gradually shifting towards mutual cooperation, increased trade turnover and investment. As the region's economies develop, the investment climate improves, and a favorable business climate is created, Japan expects to strengthen its position more intensively in the face of growing competition in this part of the world.

Tokyo emphasizes its readiness to share its experience of socio-economic development with the countries of the region, which finds a positive response, for example, from the leaders of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The attractiveness of the Japanese development model lies in the fact that it does not require radical changes in the country's political structure, radical democratization and economic reforms, and is in principle compatible with the authoritarian regimes of the countries of the region.


Cultural and humanitarian cooperation between Japan and the Central Asian countries is becoming an important and promising area. Public diplomacy is one of the ways to create a positive image of the Country of the rising Sun in the region and create a favorable environment for implementing a foreign policy course.

For this purpose, Japanese centers are being created, where Japanese language courses are organized, events are held to familiarize with the country's culture, and specialists in the business field are trained. Such centers operate in Bishkek, Astana and Alma-Ata, Tashkent and Bukhara. Every year, Japan hosts research interns from the Central Asian republics. There are university exchange programs (for example, between Nagoya University and the Tashkent State Law Institute, between the University of Tsukuba and the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies). Cultural festivals are regularly held and widely covered in the media in Central Asian countries and Japan.

Using educational programs, Tokyo works with young people from Central Asian countries, forming a new generation of political and business elites who are familiar with the Land of the Rising Sun, ready and willing to cooperate with it. Japan is also working to promote the region among Japanese people. For example, a task created in 2001 successfully performs this task. Society for Central Asian Studies. Such cooperation allows the states of the region to attract interest in developing business ties, promoting tourism and human exchanges, as well as provides an opportunity to train qualified personnel and learn from one of the world's leading economic powers.

Relations with Central Asia can be called a fairly successful example of Japan's implementation of the "soft power" strategy, which consists in using a set of non-violent methods to ensure its interests. This region has become a good platform for Tokyo to test its humanitarian initiatives. And for the Central Asian countries, cooperation with Japan is an important factor in improving their international status, integrating them into multilateral structures, and contributing to their modernization and economic development.

In general, we can say that the Central Asian states are impressed by Japan's approach. For a long time, Tokyo has kept out of the energy competition, declaring its main goal to stabilize the region by promoting its long-term development. Japan has been careful not to interfere in the internal affairs of countries in the region or make strict demands in response to financial aid. As a result, it has managed to gain a mostly positive reputation in Central Asia.

In the years that have passed since the establishment of relations between these countries and Japan, the foundations of multifaceted cooperation in the political and cultural fields have been laid. At the same time, Japan's presence in the region's economies, including in the oil and gas sector, is very modest. This is especially noticeable against the background of China's active activity, as well as the penetration of South Korea and India into the region.

1 Central Asia + Japan Dialogue. 4th Tokyo Dialogue. Keynote address by Vice Minister Fukuyama. 25.02.2010 - ue/pdfs/speech1002_r.pdf

2 PanOrient on Japanese-Uzbek Relations. 13.02.2011 -

3 Address by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to the Japan Association of Corporate Executives. 24 July 1997. Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet -

4 Asia in a New Century: Change and Opportunity. Speech by Prime Minister Junitiro Koizumi at the Boao Forum for Asia -

Yuasa Takeshi. 5 Japan's Multilateral Approach toward Central Asia // Eager Eyes Fixed on Slavic Eurasia: Vol. 1, Russia and Its Neighbors in Crisis. Sapporo, Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, June 2007, p. 77-79.

6 "Chuo Adziya to Nihon" taiwa. Gaisho kaigo kedo sei mei (Dialogue "Central Asia and Japan". Joint Statement of the Foreign Ministers, 28.08.2004. Астана) -

7 Joint Statement US-Japan Security Consultative Committee. Washington DC, 19.02.2005 -

8 Diplomatic Bluebook 2007. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan -

9 Kodo keikaku no kosi (Main content of the Action Plan). Japanese Foreign 06/koshi. html

10 Japan's Assistance to Afghanistan: Achievements and Major Output. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 06.02.2011 -

11 Official Development Assistance (ODA) White book 2009. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan -

12 JBIC. Central Asia and ODA Loans, p. 4-5.

13 nis.html

14 Japan's International Trade in Goods (monthly). November 2010. Japan External Trade Organization -

15 Japan-Kazakhstan Relations. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. 14.10.2010 -


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