"Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue
The Third Tokyo Dialogue (Theme: The Environment)
The Issue Paper
1. The Tokyo Dialogue within the Framework of "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue
(1) The "Central Asia plus Japan" Dialogue, launched in 2004 under the initiative of the Japanese Government, is a framework for multilateral dialogue and cooperation between Central Asian countries and Japan. The five pillars of the framework are political dialogue, intra-regional cooperation, business promotion, intellectual dialogue, and cultural and people-to-people exchange. The Tokyo Dialogue corresponds to intellectual dialogue. It is held on a so-called parallel-track level, in which the main members comprise Japanese and Central Asian intellectuals, with government officials participating in a personal capacity.
(2) The first Tokyo Dialogue, held in March 2006, focused on the themes "Prospects for Regional Integration in Central Asia" and "Relations between Central Asia and Countries Outside the Region," while the second dialogue, held in January 2007, took up the themes "Prospects for Regional Cooperation in Central Asia on Water Resources and Electric Power" and "Prospects for Diversification of Central Asia's Energy Supply Routes." At the third dialogue discussions will be held with "The Environment" as the theme, as follows. The results of the discussions will be put together into a policy proposal in the form of a Chairperson's summary.
2. Theme of the Third Tokyo Dialogue: "The Environment"
(1) While environmental problems were growing into global issues, development in Central Asia under Soviet-era economic planning led to inefficient economic structures with high environmental impact characterized by resource development industries that generate massive amounts of industrial waste; high-input agriculture that heavily uses water resources, fertilizers, and agrochemicals; lagging technological innovation; and aging infrastructure. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Central Asian countries have come to face such challenges as overcoming this negative historical legacy, developing their domestic economies and industries by promoting the transition to market economies, and minimizing the environmental impacts accompanying development.
Today, 17 years since independence, each Central Asian country has a development policy with a different focus, and disparities on both the political and economic fronts are widening among them. As regards environmental issues, meanwhile, it is crucial that regional cooperation be promoted and coordinated, as these issues transcend national borders and affect the entire region.
(2) The effects of soil-related environmental destruction are particularly grave in the Central Asian countries. Issues include radioactive contamination of the soil in Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan and salination and degradation of the soil and desertification due to large-scale irrigation in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and other places. Furthermore, the effects of these environmental problems are not confined to individual countries but are expanding to a regional scale through such phenomena as the spread of soil contamination by way of floods and landslides and dust winds containing salt and residual agrochemicals. Given these circumstances, it will be of great value for Central Asian countries and Japan to share their knowledge and experiences regarding soil protection and improvement and to study the possibility of intra-regional cooperation in a form that entails Japanese involvement.
(3) Central Asian countries are strongly concerned with the issue of global warming due to climate change. It can hardly be said, however, that information is sufficiently being shared among these countries on the effects of climate change on the regional environment as a whole. At the third Tokyo dialogue, therefore, it will be beneficial to provide a forum for discussing the effects of climate change and the policies and experiences of each country, as well as for sharing each country's knowledge and experience. Discussions will also be held as to how Japan should cooperate in the future.
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