March 18, 2014

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue. Based on the dialogues up to now, the relevant countries have reached a shared recognition that regional cooperation is essential for the stability and development of Central Asia, and are aware that we are currently at the stage of formulating specific regional cooperation projects. Based on this awareness, we held the Seventh Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) of the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue in October last year, and since then, we have carried out a number of discussions regarding the potential for cooperation in the field of agriculture. In particular, we held an “expert meeting” in Japan in February this year, and this was attended by experts of Central Asian countries. At the meeting, the Central Asian experts presented concrete project proposals, and participants from the Japan side explained the specific details of potential cooperation based on their knowledge and experience.

In order to get closer to realizing such projects, at this Sixth Tokyo Dialogue, Japanese companies introduced their products, technologies, and know-how that can be utilized for cooperation with Central Asia, and experts from Central Asia gave presentations regarding projects not only for assistance but also for cooperation with companies, which were reconsidered based on the outcomes of February’s “expert meeting.” Furthermore, knowledgeable persons in the audience who were involved in activities and cooperation in Central Asia made various comments based on their experiences in the region, and a lively exchange of views took place.

As a result—of the projects presented by the Central Asia side—aspects of Japanese ODA projects that can be pursued, and aspects of such projects that appear to have the potential for cooperation with companies, were revealed. Furthermore, it was pointed out that there is a possibility for the utilization of universities and research institutes, collaboration with international organizations that possess similar objectives, and the combination of various technologies.

At the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue / the Fifth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting scheduled to be held this year, we intend to carry out discussions and to promote Japan-wide cooperation, taking into consideration the following three points based on the recent “Tokyo Dialogue” in order to present a future direction for cooperation in the field of agriculture.

Firstly, the field of agriculture in Central Asian countries is diverse, and the cooperation needs in this area are also diverse, but we have affirmed that building value chains and boosting the quality and safety of agricultural products are common issues for all of the countries. The stages requiring focused development, such as producing, processing, and exporting, are different depending on the country, but in each case it is important to promote cooperation, taking into consideration the value chain overall.

Secondly, there is a need for further discussions on how to incorporate elements of regional cooperation based on the shared regional issues that have been identified.

Thirdly, it is also necessary to discuss how to include “Japanese characteristics” in projects based on what has been indicated regarding assistance and the technologies that Japan can provide.

In the process of deciding to cover the field of agriculture in the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue, and eventually the “Tokyo Dialogue,” we have received proactive involvement from the Central Asia side, and I would like to highly commend the fact that the “Central Asia plus Japan” Dialogue has started to function as a practical mechanism for the promotion of regional cooperation.

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