Japan's Official Development Assistance White Paper 2006

Main Text > Part II ODA DISBURSEMENTS IN FISCAL YEAR 2005 > Chapter 2 Details about Japan's ODA > 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 2005 was approximately US$172.57 million, 1.6% of total bilateral ODA.

    Against the background of the international situation after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Japan has been actively supporting the efforts of the countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus to promote their 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.

    In Central Asia particularly, political and economic situations in countries in the region have diversified after 15 years have passed since they gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union. At the same time, economic disparity between the countries has tended to expand depending on the existence or absence of energy resources in the countries. In addition, following the September 11 Terrorist Attacks there has been a renewed recognition that development assistance aimed at poverty reduction is vital in preventing a recipient region from becoming a hotbed for terrorists. The Central Asian countries are generally cooperative toward the international community in fighting against terrorism and are showing their intention to support the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

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

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

    Since countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus are in the process of transitioning from state-planned economies to market economies, it is vital for them to receive assistance in "software" such as human resources development and institution building. By the end of FY2005, Japan had accepted approximately 603 trainees from eight countries in this region. Japan has also provided assistance in human resources development and institution building through the dispatch of experts in areas such as economic management, legal system development, communications, finance, environment, transportation infrastructure, and health and medical care, and through conducting development studies in areas such as distribution, disaster management, and energy. Moreover, Japan Centers for Human Development have been established in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and the Kyrgyz Republic as bases for human capacity-development 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 the market economy in the region.

    Furthermore, Japan intends to conduct active diplomacy with this region from a medium- to long-term perspective. As part of this, when the then Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoriko Kawaguchi visited four Central Asian countries in August 2004, Japan introduced a new policy toward Central Asia. This new policy consists of the two pillars of: "engaging in dialogue and building cooperation with Central Asia as a whole," on top of the traditional pillar of "enhancing and increasing the closeness of bilateral relations." During the same visit, the Foreign Ministers' Meeting between four Central Asian countries and Japan was held in Kazakhstan, where the framework of the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue was set up, and this was welcomed and endorsed by the Central Asian countries. At the meeting, it was confirmed that in order for the Central Asian countries to work together in unity and develop further in the future, it is vital to promote intra-regional cooperation to face such regional challenges as illegal drugs, terrorism, environment, energy, water, transportation, trade and investment, and so forth, and Japan expressed its intention to support such efforts. Moreover, at the Second Foreign Ministers' Meeting held in Tokyo in June 2006, under the chairmanship of Minister for Foreign Affairs Taro Aso, the Action Plan for the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue was adopted. The participants agreed to thereafter promote cooperation centering on the five areas of: (1) political dialogue, (2) intra-regional cooperation, (3) business promotion, (4) intellectual dialogue, and (5) cultural and human exchanges (including tourism), as its pillars. There was particular agreement over making efforts through utilizing ODA for a variety of measures to promote intra-regional cooperation. In addition, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan also participated as a guest in the Second Foreign Ministers' Meeting, and awareness was shared that cooperation in the border region is important.

    The Caucasus region, against the background of complicated ethnic makeup, has many factors for instability such as the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. The stability of this region has great importance for the entire international community including Japan. In addition, the coast of Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea has one of the largest undeveloped oil field in the world, and the route for the oil pipeline that runs from this oil field to the Mediterranean Sea goes through the southern Caucasus region. Therefore, the steady economic development of this region is important for international energy security. In the energy sector, Japan extended cooperation by yen loans for the construction of thermal power plants in March (Armenia) and May (Azerbaijan) 2005, providing assistance for the alleviation of the serious shortages in the supply of electric power expected in the future. At the Georgia Donors' Conference (June 2004, Brussels), Japan announced its ongoing assistance for Georgia, in which democratization was advanced through the Rose Revolution of 2003. Japan provided assistance in March 2006 through financing for improving the economic structure. Moreover, employment generation for income improvement and improving public services have become common challenges throughout the Caucasus. Japan offers assistance to these countries through efforts like the dispatch of experts and training toward promoting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and for the fields of health, medical care, and water.