The Eurasia Review looks at Japan’s increasing ties to Central Asian countries as it looks to bolster its energy security now that it is questioning its future reliance on nuclear energy.

Japan is increasing its involvement in the Eurasian region, which is occurring through various means such as trade, defence initiatives and gifts and loans. It is also seeking to strengthen relations with the vast majority of the countries within the region, including the Central Asian countries of Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Russia who plan on exploiting their Caspian Sea oil and gas fields.

Japan’s economy has already been overtaken by the economy of China, and is likely to be overtaken by India in the near future. The growing economies and global influence of those nations risks compromising Japan’s interests in Eurasia, a major factor in why Japan is taking action in the region now.

Japan issued a US$11 million dollar grant to Azerbaijan earlier this month for the purpose of constructing and repairing fifty schools across the country. Such implementations of soft power from Japan helps give it greater geostrategic clout and increased potential to obtain Azerbaijan’s energy supplies. This is highly significant given the increasing involvement in Eurasia by the majority of the established and growing global powers such as the US, China and the EU. This helps ensure that Japan stays competitive in regional geopolitics as Eurasia’s strategic appeal continues to increase.

Relations between Japan and Uzbekistan have grown stronger in recent times, largely as a result of Japan’s desire to increase its involvement in Eurasia… The fact that Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are major energy producers and that Georgia has valuable geostrategic appeal, those that those issues have become a major priority for Japan.

Recently Japan’s former prime minister, Naoto Kan, said that Uzbekistan is “geopolitically a very important country to Japan” as well as “a strategically important partner from the viewpoint of energy and resources.”

As energy security becomes a greater priority for most of the developed world and China and India, Japan is taking initiatives in Eurasia to ensure its energy security concerns are addressed. While Japan’s involvement has been largely low-key, it is hoping to establish strong ties throughout the region to ensure future energy supplies.

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