Japan's Official Development Assistance White Paper 2005

Main Text > Part II ODA DISBURSEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 2004 > Chapter 2 Details and New Policies about Japan's ODA: Striving for Further ODA Reforms > Section 3. Assistance for Each Region > 3. Central Asia and the Caucasus

3. Central Asia and the Caucasus

Japan's bilateral ODA to Central Asia and the Caucasus in 2004 was approximately US$290.91 million, 4.9% of total bilateral ODA.

Amidst a new international situation after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Japan will be actively supporting the efforts of the countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus to promote democratization and to introduce market economies, while taking into consideration their geopolitical significance. To that end, assistance is given with a focus on technical cooperation for human resources development, infrastructure development, and financial cooperation for the alleviation of difficulties encountered in the process of economic reform.

Since the September 11 terrorist attacks, Central Asia in particular has rapidly gained attention under the renewed understanding that development assistance aimed at poverty reduction is vital in preventing the region from becoming a breeding ground for terrorists. Because the Central Asian countries are generally cooperative toward international society in fighting terrorism and are showing their intention to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan, Japan has provided assistance to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, as neighboring countries of Afghanistan.

Countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus are in the process of transitioning from state-planned economies to market economies, so that it is vital for them to receive software type assistance such as human resources development and institution-building. By the end of FY2004, Japan had accepted approximately 3,700 trainees from eight countries in this region. Japan is also providing assistance in human resources development and institution-building through the dispatch of experts in areas such as economic management, legal systems development, communications, finance, environment, transportation infrastructure, and health and medical care, and through conducting development studies in the social, energy, and natural resources development sectors. Moreover, Japan Centers for Human Development have been established in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic as bases for human capacity-building assistance. Experts are dispatched to these centers from Japan to offer business courses based on Japan's experiences, as well as Japanese language lessons, and they contribute to developing human resources that can respond to the introduction of market economy in the region.

Chart 28. Japan's Assistance Disbursements in the Central Asia and the Caucasus Region

Chart 28. Japan's Assistance Disbursements in the Central Asia and the Caucasus Region

Furthermore, while Japan strives to conduct active diplomacy with this region from a medium- to long-term perspective, then-Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi visited four Central Asian countries in August 2004, and announced Japan's New Policy for Central Asia based on two pillars: (1) to further enhance efforts to strengthen bilateral relationships and develop closer ties between Japan and each Central Asian country, and (2) to advance dialogues with the entire Central Asian region in order to promote intra-regional cooperation aiming at further development of the Central Asian countries, and the Central Asian countries welcomed and approved of this new policy framework. Furthermore, on the same occasion, the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue was initiated with the objective of materializing the second pillar, and the first foreign ministerial meeting was held in Astana (Kazakhstan). At the meeting, it was confirmed that in order for the Central Asian countries to work together as one and develop further in the future, it is vital to promote intra-regional cooperation in order to face such regional challenges as the reconstruction of Afghanistan, illegal drugs, terrorism, environment, energy, water, transportation, trade and investment, and so forth, and Japan expressed its intention to support such efforts. Moreover, it was decided that the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue will continue to be held at various levels. The first high-level meeting was held in Tashkent in March 2005. In the future, these Dialogues will be advanced through the following five pillars: (1) political dialogue, (2) intra-regional cooperation, (3) business promotion, (4) intellectual dialogue, and (5) cultural and person-to-person exchange (including tourism).

The Caucasus region, against the background of complicated ethnic makeup, has many factors for instability such as the issues in Chechnya and Nagorno-Karabakhskaya. The stability in this region has a great significance for the entire international community including Japan. The coast of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea has the largest undeveloped oil field in the world, and the route for the oil pipeline that will run from this oil field to the Mediterranean Sea will go through the southern Caucasus region. Therefore, the steady economic development of this region is important for securing a stable energy source for the international community. Japan has recognized the active efforts put forth by Georgia, where the Rose Revolution took place in November 2003, toward democratization and eradication of corruption, and announced at the Georgia Donors' Conference (June 2004, Brussels) its intention to continue to provide support to Georgia. In addition to accepting approximately 100 trainees over the next three years, Japan also provided debt relief, non-project grant aid, and assistance in expanding food production in FY2004. For Armenia and Azerbaijan, Japan provided yen loans to Armenia in March 2005 and to Azerbaijan in May 2005 for building thermal power plants in order to promote sustainable growth by alleviating the risk of a serious lack of electrical power supply expected in the future.