Central Asia: Japan's New 'Old' Frontier


Timur Dadabaev

Asia Pacific Issues, No. 136


Washington: East-West Center

Publication Date: February 2019
Binding: paper
Pages: 10
Free Download: PDF



SUMMARY  |   Japanese Silk Road Diplomacy, launched in 1997 by Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, was to become one of the first international diplomatic initiatives appealing to the connectivity and revival of the Silk Road within Central Asia (CA). Subsequently, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dispatched a “Silk Road Energy Mission” in July of 2002, launched the “Central Asia plus Japan” region-building initiative in August 2004, and visited CA in 2006. Most recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited all five CA states in 2015. Collectively, these initiatives demonstrate that CA is Japan’s latest “frontier” in Asia, where its presence can be further expanded. For CA states, Japanese involvement in the region represents an attempt to balance Russian and Chinese engagements, while offering access to the technologies and knowledge needed to upgrade their economies’ industrial structures.