Japan Seeks to Boost Central Asia Relations With 1st Summit in 2024

9

TOKYO — Japan is planning its first summit meeting with the five countries of Central Asia in 2024, seeking to boost ties with the resource-rich region that China has also been courting.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa confirmed the plans when she met with Kazakh Foreign Minister Murat Nurtleu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.

Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan make up Central Asia, a region that is rich in oil, natural gas and gold.

A framework for dialogue between Japan and Central Asia was launched in 2004, with nine meetings having taken place up to now. As next year marks the 20th anniversary of this framework, Japan is looking to upgrade the dialogue to a top-level summit. 

U.S. President Joe Biden held his first summit meeting with the five countries in New York on Tuesday. The leaders discussed issues such as the development of mineral resources in a move to dial up pressure on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Japan and the U.S. are stepping up efforts to court the region as it holds strategic importance to China. Central Asia makes up a key portion of its Belt and Road economic initiative, which is designed to create a broad economic sphere connecting China to Europe.

In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping held the first face-to-face summit between China and the five countries, which was timed to overlap with the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

During a trip to Kazakhstan in 2013, Xi proposed an economic belt along the Silk Road, a historical trade route, which became part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Kazakhstan was also the first country Xi visited after the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Source : Nikkei