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Russia, Central Asia, and the Caucasus

In Russia, since President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin assumed office in May, the overall management of the political administration has been stable with no essential changes appearing in the direction of its foreign policy. In its diplomacy towards Asia, Russia has in recent years been adopting a policy to advance development of Far East Russia and Eastern Siberia and strengthen its relations with the Asia-Pacific region. Russia's activities in this region have become increasingly dynamic on both the security and economic fronts. Although the Russian economy has continued to grow and Japan-Russia economic relations have been expanding smoothly, impacts of the financial crisis began to appear at the end of 2008.

Russia is an important neighboring country for Japan, and enhancing cooperation and partnership between Japan and Russia within the Asia-Pacific region is not only consistent with both countries' strategic interests but can also contribute to the stability and prosperity of the region. In Japan-Russia relations, cooperation is advancing across a broad range of areas based on the Japan-Russia Action Plan, with political dialogues being held frequently at various levels, including summit meetings and foreign ministers' meetings, and the economic relations between the two countries developing steadily.

In order to contribute to stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, the Japanese government has been engaging in intensive negotiations with the Russian government with the strong intention to reach the final solution of the Northern Territories issue, the greatest outstanding issue between the countries, so that Japan and Russia can establish a relationship at a higher level where both countries can grow together in the region.

In August 2008, the armed clashes between Georgia and Russia regarding South Ossetia occurred in the Caucasus region, which captured the attention of people around the world. Because of its abundant energy resources and its geopolitical importance of being situated on a crossroads bringing together Asia and Europe as well as Russia and the Middle East, the stability and the prosperity of Central Asia and the Caucasus region have become an important issue of concern for not only Japan but also for the international community. In June, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan visited Japan, during which the foundations for mutually beneficial relations were expanded. Japan continues to support efforts of the Central Asia and Caucasus countries towards democratization and transition to a market economy, based on the concept of the "Arc of Freedom and Prosperity", through bilateral means as well as through the framework of the "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue and others.

Photo:Prime Minister Aso holds a meeting with Russian President Medvedev (November 22, Lima, Peru; photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

Prime Minister Aso holds a meeting with Russian President Medvedev (November 22, Lima, Peru; photo: Cabinet Public Relations Office, Cabinet Secretariat)

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