Central Asia-Japan Dialogue: New Perspectives for Partnership

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The 9th Foreign Ministers Meeting of the “Central Asia+Japan Dialogue” will be held on 24 December 2022. During the meeting, it was announced that the parties would discuss joint cooperation and sustainable development of the Central Asian region. Also on the agenda will be international issues, including the situation in Ukraine and Afghanistan. According to the announcement made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan on December 15, 2022; Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his Central Asian counterparts will attend the meeting.[1] It is expected that this event will pave the way for a tangible partnership in all areas of mutual interest.

The “Central Asia+Japan Dialogue” was established in 2004 to promote regional cooperation by Japan, which considers such cooperation to solve common problems in the region to be essential for the stability and development of Central Asia. Considering the development of the Central Asian countries in the thirty years since their independence, Japan; seeks to expand cooperation for a free and open Central Asia that is based on the rule of law, maintains, and strengthens the international order, and practices sustainable development.

Within the scope of this dialogue, 8 foreign ministers’ meetings, 15 high-level official meetings, 11 intellectual dialogues (Tokyo Dialogue), 7 expert meetings and 2 business dialogues have been held so far.[2] Japan’s engagement in Central Asia is shaped by the concept of ‘human security’, which aims to assist both infrastructure and human development projects.

Japan, especially recently, has focused on improving its relations with Central Asian countries. In November 2022, the Association of Members of Parliament for Japan-Central Asia Friendship was established in Tokyo. Taro Aso, Vice President and Former Prime Minister of the Liberal Democratic Party in power in Japan.[3] As it will be remembered, the Extraordinary Meeting of Foreign Ministers of “Central Asia+Japan Dialogue” was held on 11 August 2020 in the form of a video conference. On December 24, 2022, Tokyo will host the 9th Foreign Ministers Meeting of the “Central Asia+Japan Dialogue”.[4]

At the meeting, which will be attended by the Foreign Ministers of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, it is expected that Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Central Asian countries and exchange views on strengthening bilateral relations, among other issues. With the said meeting, it is aimed to develop relations that prioritize mutual interests and are shaped by a sense of solidarity on the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

It is possible to explain Tokyo’s interest in the region through its desire to balance the growing influence of China or the independent policy of the Japanese authorities to seek new opportunities for the country’s economy. In addition, it is possible to argue that Tokyo primarily counts on the support of the countries of the region to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The states of the region also see Japan as an alternative source of financial and technological support, free from geopolitical ties.

The “Central Asia+Japan” or “5+1” format has become the main platform for consensus on promising areas for the development of relations, and these areas are built around five pillars. These are: political dialogue, regional cooperation, business promotion, intellectual dialogue and cultural exchanges.[5]

However, one of the most important advantages of Japan in the region is its economic diplomacy and positive image. Tokyo can achieve greater success in the region, as it does not experience typical superpower issues such as border issues and is unlikely to impose its policies. Because it has a foreign policy concept that will not disturb the regional states.

As a result, it is possible to observe that Japan has focused on economic and human ties by adopting a more pragmatic and balanced approach while evaluating the opportunities and constraints in Central Asia in recent years. On December 2, 2022, Tokyo hosted the 2022 Central Asian Investment Forum, organized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).[6] Forum; It brought together government representatives, international experts, industry experts and EBRD representatives from Central Asia, Mongolia, and Japan, as well as the Japanese business community. Discussions were held in the forum on issues such as green energy, infrastructure development, ensuring the integrity of transportation and logistics corridors. Currently, Japan is one of the leading investors in the Central Asian market. It is possible to foresee that the volume of these investments will increase even more.

[1] The 9th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue, Japonya Dışişleri Bakanlığı Resmi Sayfası,, (Date of Accession: 17.12.2022).

[2] Главы МИД Японии и стран Центральной Азии встретятся на следующей неделе, News Central Asia,, (Date of Accession: 17.12.2022).

[3] Встреча глав МИД Японии и стран Центральной Азии пройдет в Токио 24 декабря, Tass,, (Date of Accession: 17.12.2022).

[4] Central Asia Investment Forum 2022, Avrupa İmar ve Kalkınma Bankası Resmi Sayfası,, (Date of Accession: 17.12.2022).

[5] Joint Statement “Central Asia + Japan” Dialogue/Foreign Ministers’ Meeting —Relations between Japan and Central Asia as They Enter a New Era—, Japonya Dışişleri Bakanlığı Resmi Sayfası,, (Date of Accession: 17.12.2022).

[6] Центральная Азия и Япония устойчиво развивают торгово-экономические отношения, World News,, (Date of Accession: 17.12.2022).

Aidana BAKTYBEK KYZY, 1999 yılında Bişkek'te doğmuştur. BAKTYBEK KYZY, 2022yılında Sakarya Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nden mezun olmuştur. Halihazırda yüksek lisans eğitimini Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Bölümü'nde devam ettirmektedir.