On 24 December 2022, the 9th meeting of Foreign Ministers under the Central Asia plus Japan dialogue took place at the Iikura House in Tokyo, chaired by Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, the Japanese Foreign Ministry reports.
The agenda of the meeting included topics of cooperation between Japan and the Central Asian region, as well as issues of regional and international policy of mutual interest.
The opening speeches were delivered by the minister of foreign affairs of Japan, as well as the heads of delegations of Central Asian countries.
Welcoming his colleagues, minister Hayashi stated his country’s readiness to promote a new model of development of relations with the region, which focuses on “investment in people” and “quality of growth” to achieve sustainable development in Central Asia in the field of economy, society and human exchanges.
In his welcoming speech, the foreign minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov noted: “The importance of this meeting is due to the need to understand both the current state of the complex of relations between Central Asia and Japan, and to determine their clear guidelines for the near future. It is, first of all, about uniting the efforts of our countries in order to maintain global peace, stability and security.”
During his remarks Kazakhstan foreign minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi announced a number of new initiatives, including the development of a Joint Action Plan to strengthen cooperation and coordination mechanisms in Central Asia. In addition, it was proposed to work out a list of joint investment projects on the basis of the Astana International Financial Center.
Foreign minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin noted that Japan is one of Tajikistan’s important development partners, and constructive cooperation with Japan contributes to the implementation of measures by the Government of Tajikistan to improve the welfare of the people and ensure sustainable development of the country.
The minister of foreign affairs of Kyrgyzstan, Jeenbek Kulubayev, stressed that the establishment of the Dialogue was a timely and strategically verified proposal by the Japanese side. Kyrgyzstan is interested in unlocking the practical potential and further developing the Dialogue and participating in projects in all areas that meet the interests of the participating countries.
The minister of foreign affairs of Uzbekistan Vladimir Norov in his speech noted that Japan is a reliable partner in ensuring the sustainable development of Central Asia, makes a significant contribution to the industrial and infrastructural modernization of the economies of the countries of the region. Initiatives were announced related to improving the efficiency of cooperation between the Central Asian countries and Japan, introducing Japanese know-how and investments, implementation of industrial cooperation projects, the attraction of grant funds from Japan to digitalize the transport system, sustainable energy supply, the promotion of the “green” agenda, the creation of medical institutions and enterprises.
The foreign ministers of the Central Asian countries expressed their interest in further strengthening cooperation with Japan, including in such areas as human resources development, through the Specified Skilled Worker System, the Technical Intern Training Program, and others.
In addition, the relevance of cooperation between the Central Asian countries and Japan in the field of decarbonization was underlined through the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), especially given that the region is extremely vulnerable to climate and environmental threats and challenges.
Another topic raised during the meeting is transport connectivity. The sides exchanged views on future cooperation within the framework of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route. As reported, the public-private mission of Japan conducted research on this corridor. In this regard, the parties agreed to hold a forum on this issue in the first quarter of 2023 within the framework of the Central Asia plus Japan dialogue for more in-depth discussions.
The next item on the agenda was security issues. The ministers agreed on the importance of intensifying efforts to counter transnational organized crime, border control and cross-border cooperation, capacity-building to combat drugs, prevent terrorism and extremism, support capacity-building in the Central Asian region and improve regional socio-economic infrastructure to help stabilize the entire region, including Afghanistan, in order to eliminate traditional risks of instability.
At the working lunch following the joint press conference, the ministers exchanged views on the regional and international situation.
The foreign ministers of Japan and the five Central Asian countries reaffirmed the importance of partnership in maintaining and strengthening the international order based on the rule of international law and the principles of the UN Charter.
The foreign ministers of Central Asia and Japan noted the growing relevance and potential of inter-parliamentary exchanges as an effective tool for global cooperation in ensuring peace, security and stability and welcomed efforts to create a six-party forum for inter-parliamentary cooperation. In this context, the Ministers also welcomed the establishment of the Japan-Central Asian Countries Parliamentary Friendship League in Japan.
Following the meeting, a Joint statement was adopted, which outlined the importance of developing cooperation between Japan and the Central Asian states in such areas as investment, trade, digital connectivity, healthcare, agriculture, education and research, water energy and climate change, as well as transport and logistics.
Kazakhstan will host the next 10th meeting of Foreign Ministers in the Central Asia+Japan format and will become the chairing country in the dialogue from 2023. ///nCa, 24 December 2022