Japan hosted delegations from four Central Asian states in Tokyo today to agree on a plan for regional cooperation. The meeting included Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, and Uzbekistan with Afghanistan attending as an observer.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry says in a statement carried by the Kyodo news agency that the plan also calls for cooperation in fostering human rights and political dialogue.
A post-meeting statement says participants “acknowledged the importance of promoting democratic societies and market economies, improving living standards, [eradicating] terrorism and poverty, and continuing efforts to protect human rights in Central Asia.”
The five also agreed to boost regional trade and improve Central Asia’s infrastructure.
Under the plan, Tokyo is scheduled to help Tajikistan renovate its road network as part of plans to link Central Asia to southern Afghanistan and make it easier to transport oil and natural gas across the region.
Something tells me the stuff about reform is just a bunch of fluff, and that Japan is much more interested in making sure that it does not get entirely shut out of the region while its two powerful neighbors are busy in the region.
Japan is not the only one playing catch up to Russia and China in trying to develop a regional policy for Central Asia. Germany says that it wants to make a unified EU policy on Central Asia a major part of its EU presidency. Matthew Clements of Jane’s Country Risk looks into his crystal ball to predict what an EU policy might look like.
Clements suggested that a unified European policy on Central Asia could be nuanced in either of two directions: “whether it is going to be working with the governments — offering aid to them, possibly in exchange for energy guarantees in return — or whether it is going to be kind of pro- democracy, pro-human rights [effort] which would not involve working so closely with the governments, and in fact could even mean going against them.”
Clements said a soft-line amalgam of aid and dialogue with the region’s governments seems the most likely path.
UPDATE: Here is the text of the Central Asia-Japan agreement. And since these things have a way of disappearing from UzReport, the whole thing is after the jump.
Full text of Action plan adopted by “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue
The Foreign Ministers of Japan, Kyrgyz Republic, the Republic of Tajikistan and the Republic of Uzbekistan and the special envoy from the Republic of Kazakhstan (hereinafter “the delegates”) held the Second Foreign Ministers’ Meeting within the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue in Tokyo on June 5, 2006, in which they reviewed the progress of cooperative actions within the new framework agreed on at the First Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in August, 2004, and discussed how the countries could cooperate among themselves, focusing on the promotion of intra-regional cooperation.
A consensus was built among the delegates that the stability and development of Central Asia are indispensable for the peace and prosperity of the Eurasian Continent as well as the international community as a whole.
The delegates reconfirmed that it was immensely important that Central Asian countries continue and intensify their endeavors toward the democratization of the societies, the promotion of the market economy, the improvement of people’s standard of living, the eradication of terrorism and poverty, and the protection of human rights. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan stated his expectation that the Central Asian countries would step up their efforts in these areas and reaffirmed Japan’s intention to continue to support such process.
Recalling that the basic principles of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue are “respect for diversity,” “competition and coordination,” and “open cooperation,” the delegates stressed the importance of deepening the mutual understanding of culture and civilization in connection with “respect for diversity.”
Recognizing that it becomes increasingly important for the Central Asian countries to jointly tackle the problems that are common to the region and promote intra-regional cooperation to create a common market amid the trend of the growing interdependence and globalization of the international community, the delegates shared the recognition that cooperation within the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue would encourage the Central Asian countries’ own efforts for intra-regional cooperation and could contribute much to the stability and sustainable development of the region. In this regard, the delegates welcomed the participation of the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as a guest in this meeting, based on a common understanding that the participation of Afghanistan, a neighbor of Central Asia, in an appropriate manner will make intra-regional cooperation more effective.
The delegates, based upon the outcomes of the discussions in the Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), endorsed “policy dialogue,” “intra-regional cooperation,” “business promotion,” “intellectual dialogue,” and “cultural and people-to-people exchange” as the pillars of cooperation within the framework. The delegates also adopted the following action plan for the five pillars. In order to maintain cooperation within the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue, the progresses of the action plan will be reviewed regularly at Senior Officials’ Meetings (SOM) and other occasions.
1. Political dialogue
(1) Dialogue within the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue
The Central Asian countries appreciated Japan’s initiative in hosting this meeting of foreign ministers. Japan and the Central Asian countries will regularly hold meetings at foreign minister level in the future within the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue.
Japan and the Central Asian countries will explore the possibility of holding a summit meeting in the future within the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue.
(2) Cooperation in the international arena
Japan and the Central Asian countries will strive to strengthen cooperation within the frameworks of the United Nations organizations and other international bodies.
Japan and the Central Asian countries emphasized that the reform of the United Nations is urgently needed in order to effectively deal with various threats that the international community in the 21st century are faced with. Especially, Japan and the Central Asian countries need to work together to reform the UN Security Council which plays a major role in maintaining peace and security. The crux of the Security Council reform is to increase the number of both permanent and non-permanent members. The Central Asian countries expressed their expectation that Japan would play a more political role in the international community and confirmed that they would unanimously support Japan’s becoming a permanent member.
Japan and the Central Asian countries, as partners for an international attempt to maintain and strengthen the disarmament and non-proliferation regime of weapons of mass destruction, will cooperate in the Process of 2010 NPT Review Conference, universalization of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocols, and the promotion of nuclear security and atomic energy safety.
With respect to the draft of the treaty for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia and the draft Protocol, Japan supports the idea of creating such a zone that contributes to the safety and security of Central Asia on condition that there is an agreement by all the countries concerned. Japan has already extended its assistances, including the contribution of 420,000 dollars to the United Nations Secretariat, to facilitate the drafting of the treaty. The Central Asian countries will negotiate with other countries concerned, including nuclear states, for signing these documents at the earliest opportunity.
Japan and the Central Asian countries will continue to cooperate in promoting peace and stability in Asia and in particular within the framework of United Nations, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD).
2. Intra-regional cooperation
Ownership of Central Asian countries and fostering of mutual confidence among them are indispensable for effective intra-regional cooperation. The Central Asian countries are determined to overcome various difficulties and reinforce their cooperation in order to achieve sustainable social and economic development in each country and throughout the region. Japan reconfirmed its intention to support intra-regional cooperation with a view to complementing Central Asian countries’ own efforts and facilitating their cooperation.
(1) Measures against terrorism and narcotics
The Central Asian countries will reinforce such region-wide undertakings as information exchanges within the region and tight controls at national borders in order to effectively crack down on terrorism and narcotics.
The Central Asian countries will also coordinate with each other not to allow religious extremism to spread in particular among the youth and seek the improvement of effectiveness of counter-measures.
The countries affirm the importance of the management and tight control of their national borders. This is particularly an urgent matter to the Republic of Tajikistan, which shares a long border with Afghanistan. Japan is prepared to examine the possibility of assisting Tajikistan and Afghanistan in improving their border-control capacities, if requested.
Also for the other Central Asian countries that are interested in tightening border controls, Japan is prepared to examine the possibility of providing assistance, including the provision of equipment and technical assistance to enhance border-control capacity, if requested.
The effects of the undertakings in the area of border control are expected to be doubled, if intra-regional cooperation among the Central Asian countries is combined with Japanese assistance to the countries and Afghanistan.
Japan, by conducting a seminar on drug detection dogs for the experts of the Central Asian countries and Afghanistan in 2005 and inviting experts from the countries to Japan for training, has been helping improve the capacity of customs officers for the strengthening of border-control capacity.
Japan is prepared to accept civilian professionals from the Central Asian countries for the training of the investigation of terrorist crimes and counter- narcotic measures. Japan is also prepared to examine the possibility of cooperating with these countries in export control aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and general-purpose items.
The fight against international terrorism is an universal agenda. Japan and the Central Asian countries will hold consultations among relevant authorities from each country.
(2) Clearance of anti-personnel mines
The Central Asian countries have been taking measures to clear land mines on their own and with the assistance of the international community.
Japan reaffirms its position with regard to the importance of increasing the signatories of the Anti-Personnel Mines Convention among the Central Asian countries.
Japan has been providing Tajikistan with such supports as establishing the signposts to show the locations of land mines and is prepared to continue assisting anti-mine activities.
Japan is prepared to offer Grassroots Human Security Grant Aid to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to help land-mine victims and provide technical assistance to mine clearing organizations, if requested.
(3) Poverty alleviation
The Central Asian countries will formulate or revise the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) or Welfare Improvement Strategy Paper (WISP) reflecting the current situations in the countries and will strive to improve the living standard of people, while taking into consideration the need of narrowing regional gaps.
The Central Asian countries greatly appreciated Japan’s contribution of Grassroots Human Security Grant Aid for restoring school buildings, supplying instruments and materials to hospitals, and other purposes (113 projects in 2004 and 2005 fiscal years). Japan is prepared to offer similar assistance to farming villages and other distressed areas, if requested.
Japan, aware of the importance of the problem, has been assisting the irrigation project in Tajikistan at the Ferghana Basin, financed from the Policy and Human Resources Development Fund that is a part of the Japan Special Fund reserved at the World Bank. The project also benefits the people in the region by creating jobs. Japan will also examine the possibility of holding seminars to assist small-sized enterprises at major cities in the basin in coordination with the Japan centers in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Japan will conduct a study on formulating a regional development plan for improving the health of residents and other purposes in the areas surrounding the Aral Sea (Karakalpakstan, the Republic of Uzbekistan). Japan is also prepared to examine the possibility of conducting similar studies in other areas surrounding the Aral Sea, if requested.
(4) Health and medical care
Sharing the recognition that intra-regional cooperation, including information exchange and the establishment of cooperation network, is important for combating the spread of HIV/AIDS, avian flu, tuberculoses and other infectious diseases, the Central Asian countries will endeavor to improve the efficiency of the intra-regional network for disease control.
Japan has implemented an HIV/AIDS prevention project jointly with Uzbekistan, targeting the youth and other high-risk populations. Japan is prepared to offer further support for infectious-disease prevention, if requested.
The Central Asian countries expressed their determination to enhance mutual cooperation in addressing cross-border environmental problems.
The Central Asian countries greatly appreciated Japan’s efforts to study on environmental protection measures covering the whole Central Asia in order to formulate projects.
Japan invited specialists from the Central Asian countries for the training on water-quality monitoring in 2004 and 2005. Japan will continue to extend technical assistance so that the Central Asian countries can inspect the water quality by applying common monitoring techniques.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan expressed their intention to continue cooperation in tackling the environmental problems affecting the health of residents in the areas surrounding the Aral Sea. In this connection, Kazakhstan appreciated Japan’s decision to make financial contribution to the Syrdariya Delta Control and Northern Aral Sea Preservation Project through the Policy and Human Resources Development Fund of the Japan Special Fund reserved at the World Bank. Kazakhstan also welcomed Japanese NPOs’ afforestation activities in the area that was once the bed of the Aral Sea but is now exposed due to drying-up. The aim of the afforestation is to prevent further desertification, salinization, and erosion in this area, and thus to protect the local residents from the damage caused by such geographic changes. Japan will examine the possibility of expanding this afforestation project, if the effectiveness of the ongoing project is made clear.
Recognizing harmful influences that industrial and other facilities, including radioactive wastes storages, may have beyond national borders on the surrounding environment and the health of adjacent residents, the countries believe it is necessary to study projects to reduce such hazards.
(6) Disaster prevention and reduction
The countries welcomed Kazakhstan’s intention to hold the Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction in 2007.
Central Asia is prone to floods, mudslides, and earthquakes and other natural disasters. To formulate effective anti-disaster policies, the Central Asian countries recognized the importance of intra-regional cooperation and expressed their intention to formulate common disaster-prevention measures including mutual support systems in emergency. Japan is prepared to help these countries achieve these objectives.
The Central Asian countries expressed their appreciation to the support provided by Japan based on Japan’s ample knowledge and expertise in disaster prevention, including the administrative training on disaster reduction at the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) in the past three years and assistance in anti-earthquake measures in Kazakhstan. Japan has started surveys in Tajikistan along the Pyandzh River with the aim of drawing up a natural disaster prevention plan for the region. There are also plans to help formulate anti-earthquake measures for Almaty and mudslide prevention measures for Uzbekistan. Japan intends to encourage the countries in the region to share the outcomes of these projects.
Upon receiving requests for support from the Central Asian countries, Japan is prepared to study possible measures in disaster prevention against earthquakes, mudslides, and other natural disasters.
(7) Energy / water
The countries pointed out that the diversification of supply routes of oil and natural gas from Central Asia and increase in its production contribute to stabilizing the international energy market.
The Central Asian countries expressed their resolution to cooperate with one another in making efficient use of water and energy resources in the region.
Japan, hoping that the Central Asian countries will reach a basic agreement on the optimal use of water and electric power in the region, expressed its intention to examine the possibility of cooperation measures such as providing technical advice once a clear direction of the cooperation among the Central Asian countries is set.
Saving water resources is an important regional issue. In addition to existing training programs on establishing water use associations and improving water supply systems, Japan plans to organize a training program on water supply to municipal cities starting in 2006.
Also in fiscal year 2006, Japan will start training programs for electric power experts in Central Asia.
The Central Asian countries will strive to improve their capacity to produce and supply electricity within and across regions.
Upon receiving requests from the Central Asian countries, Japan is prepared to examine the possibility of providing assistance for the greater stability and reliability of the electric power generation systems in the region as a mid- and long-term task.
(8) Trade and investment
To activate trade and investment in and outside Central Asia, the Central Asian countries recognized the importance of uniting the region into a common market with a population of 57 million people. The Central Asian countries expressed their resolution to enhance intra-regional cooperation measures such as standardization and simplification of customs procedures towards the creation of a common Central Asian market.
In their regard, Japan expressed its readiness to provide necessary support to the efforts by Central Asian countries for the early formulation of mid- and long-term intergovernmental programs on regional economic cooperation and the creation of an environment that attracts the flow of investments, products, and technologies from Japan into Central Asia.
Japan and the Central Asian countries shared the recognition that Central Asia’s integration into the global economy through WTO membership is the key to the prosperity of the region. The establishment of a regional common market should also take place in compliance with the WTO rules. To realize early accession to WTO, the Central Asian countries expressed their resolution to double their reform efforts for establishing a market economy, including the formulation of laws and regulations on trade and economic activities.
Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan, announced a “Development Initiative” to support sustainable development through trade in developing countries before the WTO Ministerial Meeting that took place in Hong Kong in December last year. The initiative is designed to provide comprehensive, multi-faceted supports in the three basic areas of trade: production, distribution/sales, and purchasing. Japan is prepared to provide support under this initiative to both WTO member Kyrgyzstan and the other non-member countries in Central Asia.
Japan supports the moves by Central Asian countries to become WTO members. As part of such support, Japan received trainees from Kazakhstan and dispatched experts on WTO accession negotiations to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Japan is prepared to implement a similar plan to send experts to Tajikistan.
The Central Asian countries valued Japan’s cooperation in the customs-related area, including seminars for high-level customs officials held in cooperation with ADB and WCO. Japan is prepared to continue to cooperate with international institutions to promote the reform and modernization of customs systems in Central Asia.
The Central Asian countries recognize that the experience of ASEAN, in which regional economic cooperation has been implemented with tangible results, may be a good model for the creation of a common market in the region. Japan will examine the possibility of holding seminars on the ASEAN experience at the Japan centers in Central Asia.
Japan has been providing assistance for the development of transport infrastructure in Central Asia, including the construction of a road in west Kazakhstan, the road rehabilitation between Bishkek and Osh in Kyrgyzstan, and the rehabilitation and modernization of airports in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. Ongoing projects include the construction of a railroad in southern Uzbekistan. These activities that help expand the capacity of regional transport were highly appreciated by the Central Asian countries.
The Central Asian countries recognize the importance of improving transport routes from Central Asia to the south through Afghanistan for the development and prosperity of their landlocked region. In this regard, these countries promote the enhancement of regional transport networks within the framework of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) and also expressed their intention to strengthen cooperation in the integration of such networks under the guidance of the United Nations.
Japan, to help establish this north-south transport route in response to a request from Tajikistan, plans to construct a road between Nizhny Pyandzh and Dousti that connects to a bridge spanning the border of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Japan will also examine the possibility of giving assistance to the construction of a road from Dousti to Kurgan-Tyube in the north and the maintenance of land transport infrastructure in Central Asia.
3. Business Promotion
Japan, through the Japan centers for human resource development in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, has been offering business courses on strategic corporate management, production and quality control, human resource development, and industrial policies for government officials and business people in Central Asia. These efforts were highly valued by countries in the region.
The Central Asian countries share the recognition that, to increase business opportunities with Japan, it is necessary to improve the environment surrounding trade and investment and jointly step up their efforts to make their markets more appealing to foreign investment. The Central Asian countries will enhance public relations efforts through JETRO offices, the Japan centers, the embassies in Tokyo, the Japan Association for Trade with Russia and Central-Eastern Europe, and other institutions.
Japan and the Central Asian countries expressed their intention to set up a joint government-business working group on economic issues within the framework of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue with a view to studying cross-regional projects and other related matters.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan expressed their intention to work on a framework for promoting regular discussions with Japanese chamber of commerce in each country so as to identify problems that Japanese companies operating in the countries are faced with. The Central Asian countries plan to hold business forums and round-table meetings to promote exchanges between companies of both Japan and Central Asia. Japan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan will examine the possibility of establishing a mechanism for addressing issues in creating business opportunities in the region for Japan.
The Central Asian countries expressed their intention to examine the possibility of establishing their respective chambers of commerce in Japan.
Japan is prepared to support the holding of a Central Asia business seminar within the country, if all the Central Asian countries show their interests.
To strengthen the business activities of the Central Asian countries, Japan will continue to support small- and medium-sized enterprises in the region through the Japan centers in the region and the Japan Association for Trade with Russia and Central-Eastern Europe.
4. Intellectual Dialogue
Japan and the Central Asian countries emphasize that intellectual exchange is an important element which would serve promoting political dialogue, bringing closer stance and coordination in relation to perspectives for economic integration of Central Asia, and developing new directions for broad-ranging cooperation.
The Central Asian countries took note that “Central Asia plus Japan” intellectual dialogue (”Tokyo Dialogue”) took place with great success on March 30 this year, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and with the attendance by experts from Japan and Central Asia, making proposals for inter-governmental dialogues.
The countries shared the recognition that maintaining dialogue channels as Track 2 and promoting exchanges of experts are important to enrich ties between Japan and Central Asia. Japan expressed its intention to hold such an intellectual dialogue every year.
5. Cultural and Human Exchanges
To promote mutual understanding between Central Asia and Japan, the Central Asian countries will make efforts to hold cultural events in Japan to display their cultures and traditions. Japan will also make efforts to hold similar events to introduce its own culture to the region. For instance, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan plan to hold culture and art festivals in Japan in 2006.
The Central Asian countries will make efforts to dispatch their students studying in Japan. Japan has been providing the Grant Aid for Scholarship Program to help these students from Uzbekistan, and it will implement a similar program for students from Kyrgyzstan.
The Central Asian countries, recalling Japan’s announcement of a plan to accept about 1,000 trainees from Central Asia over a 3-year period in the joint declaration of the First Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in August 2004, expressed their appreciation that Japan has received over 800 trainees from Central Asia from 2004 to 2005, steadily promoting people-to-people exchanges. Japan expressed its intention that it would continue to accept trainees from Central Asia.
Japan and the Central Asian countries welcomed the establishment of direct cooperation between their advanced educational institutions. In this regard, Nagoya University in Japan opened a research and education center on Japanese laws at the Tashkent State Institute of Law in September 2005 as part of its continuing support to improve legal systems in the region, which was highly appreciated by the Central Asian countries. They also welcomed a plan to set up a Central Asia international cooperation center by Tsukuba University in cooperation with the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies in the hope that the center will help build a network of universities across Central Asia and become a hub of exchanges and joint studies on Japanese language and culture.
The Central Asian countries, aware that tourism promotes mutual understanding among the peoples between Central Asia and Japan, welcomed group tours organized by Japanese travel agencies. To increase the number of Japanese tourists to the region, the Central Asian countries will make their efforts to implement a number of measures, including public relations activities at seminars held by the Japan Association of Travel Agents, dispatching a PR mission to Japan, improving traffic systems, and simplifying visa procedures for Japanese tourists. In this regard, Japan welcomed the visa-free arrangements for Japanese citizens introduced by Kyrgyzstan.
Japan and the Central Asian countries understand the importance of exchanging opinions between Japanese and Central Asian travel agencies to share the experiences of Japan and discuss matters regarding the increase in the number of travelers into the region.
Two copies done at Tokyo on June 5, 2006, one in Japanese and the other in Russian.
Taro Aso, Foreign Minister, Japan
Talbak Nazarov, Foreign Minister, Republic of Tajikistan
Elyor Ganiev, Foreign Minister, Republic of Uzbekistan
Alikbek Djekshenkulov, Foreign Minister, Kyrgyz Republic
Kariat Abdrakhmanov, Special Envoy and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kazakhstan