Prime Minister Naoto Kan and President Islam Karimov, February 9th, 2011

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and President Islam Karimov, February 9th, 2011 (Source: Kantei)

“Uzbekistan […] is geopolitically a very important country to Japan, and at the same time it is a strategically important partner from the viewpoint of energy and resources. I hope that [President Karimov's] visit will be an opportunity to elevate bilateral ties to a higher level.”
- Prime Minister Naoto Kan, February 9th, 2011

Hungry for energy and resource security, over the past 20 years Japan has successfully wooed Uzbekistan into trade and cooperation. Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik at PanOrient News produced an excellent rundown of the recent flurry of diplomacy between the Japan and Uzbekistan:

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Japan established diplomatic ties with Uzbekistan in 1992 and came up with Silk Road Diplomacy under Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto by the mid 1990s. Since 2002 both countries have been promoting strategic partnership.

The ‘Central Asia plus Japan Dialogue’ initiated by Foreign Minister Yuriko Kawaguchi in 2004, brings Japan much closer to Central Asian States. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Uzbekistan in August 2006 was the first by a Japanese leader. President Karimov visited Japan in 1994 and 2002.

Prospects in the field of mining and industry seem quite bright between the two countries. Uzbekistan is quite rich in natural minerals and rare metals.

As a country with few natural resources, Japan would be looking more eagerly at the development of Uzbek mineral resources so as to diversify its dependency on China.

Uzbekistan would be a good substitute for Japan to obtain minerals and rare metals from without any historical enmity or commercial rivalry. Rare metals are indispensable in high-tech products such as motors for hybrid cars and electronic parts for which Japan is famous for their production. The production of rare metals is quite limited and the major producer, China, began restricting their
exports to Japan in the fall of 2010, leading to a sharp rise in prices.

Read more at PanOrient News…

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch