Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus
With strong emerging economy owing to soaring oil prices and other circumstances, Russia restored confidence, consequently rising nationalism and resurging as a great power. In December, President Putin upon the overwhelming victory at the lower house of the Federal Assembly elections of the ruling party United Russia in the State Duma which envisaged Putin as the head of the candidate list, designated his close aide, Dmitry Medvedev, First Deputy Chairman of the Government as his preferred successor, while announcing his intention to assume the office of Chairman of the Government for retaining his influence.
In Japan-Russia relations, political dialogues have been held frequently at various levels, such as summit and foreign minister levels, while cooperation is advancing across a broad range of fields based on the Japan-Russia Action Plan, including steady development of economic relations between the two countries. In addition to making efforts to elevate Japan-Russia relations to a higher level, Japan has been engaged in intensive negotiations with the Russian government with the strong intention to resolve the issue of the Northern Territories, the most outstanding issue in Japan-Russia relations.
International interests toward the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus has been growing, taking account on their abundant energy resources as well as their geopolitical position at the center of Eurasia. Japan has taken the standpoint of proactive commitment to the region, as demonstrated both domestically and internationally through Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in August 2006. Japan has also worked to further strengthen its relations with the countries of the region by steadily promoting cooperation through the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue, inviting various heads of state of the region to Japan and sending senior officials of the Government of Japan to the region.