On April 15 of this year, the 8th Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Dialogue “Central Asia + Japan” was held in the format of a videoconference. The event was attended by representatives of governments and foreign ministers of Japan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade S. Umurzakov presented the Republic of Uzbekistan at the meeting.
The main goals of this platform are to expand political dialogue, trade and economic cooperation, strengthen the presence of Japan and the positions of Japanese companies in Central Asia, and expand cultural and humanitarian exchange with the countries of the region. Key areas of multilateral interaction are political dialogue, the development of intra-regional cooperation, business support; intellectual dialogue, strengthening cultural ties and the exchange of human capital. Also, within the framework of the Dialogue, issues of cooperation in the field of combating terrorism and the spread of drugs, regional security, agriculture, water and energy resources, transport and logistics, environmental protection, tourism, trade and investment in the region are being worked out and coordinated.
The agenda of the meeting focused on comprehensive measures to strengthen cooperation between the countries of Central Asia and Japan, in particular on cooperation in the field of countering the COVID-19 pandemic, strengthening border control, regional security and cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Representatives of the countries participating in the meeting in their speeches outlined the current state of cooperation with Japan, outlined topical issues in priority areas of interaction, and also put forward proposals for further deepening the partnership.
S. Umurzakov, addressing the participants of the meeting, outlined Uzbekistan’s readiness to intensify cooperation and expand the agenda of the Dialogue. He summed up the results of the 30-year cooperation between Uzbekistan and Japan, as well as voiced the areas most important in the context of the development of interaction within the framework of this platform, including: expanding cooperation on combating infectious diseases by introducing advanced Japanese experience, creating joint pharmaceutical clusters and specialized scientific and educational institutions, ensuring sustainable socio-economic development through the fight against transnational and organized crime, drug trafficking, cybercrime and other security challenges, implementing joint projects to diversify transport corridors, build new railways and highways and develop the potential of air transportation. Also, measures for the development of the digital economy and electronic trade, the introduction of Japanese technologies and know-how, the promotion of a “green economy,” the containment of climate change processes and other areas were identified as priority areas of cooperation.
The Uzbek side has put forward a number of new initiatives for subsequent implementation, including the development of a joint poverty reduction program based on the Japanese program “One Village – One Product,” promotion of the regional program “Green Agenda” for Central Asia, “transformation of the Japanese Digital University established in Tashkent in 2020 into the Central Asian Digital University in order to expand the coverage of the region with training and professional development services in this area and the implementation of joint educational programs, and other promising ideas.
Following the event, the Japanese side expressed its readiness to further contribute to the sustainable development of the region by expanding bilateral and multilateral dialogue with the countries of Central Asia.