Japan highly appreciates Kazakhstan's efforts as a leader in the world dialogue on implementation of Nuclear-Free World initiative, Foreign Minister Kōichirō Gemba

By Ruslan Suleimenov

The Japanese-Kazakh relations in the economic sphere are rapidly developing in recent years. Kazakhstan ranks first among the countries of Central Asia in the volume of trade and the amount of the Japanese investments, that gives reason to confirm Kazakhstan is a very important partner of Japan in this region, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Kōichirō Gemba has told in an interview with Kazinform.

How do you estimate the state and prospects of the Kazakh-Japanese relations?

In 1992 Japan and the Republic of Kazakhstan established diplomatic relations, and on January 26, 2012, this important date will mark its 20th anniversary. I would like to note that during these years the bilateral relations have been successfully strengthened in the political, economic, cultural and other spheres.

The Government of Japan and Japanese businessmen show great interest in the potential of Kazakhstan, including energy and other natural resources.

Kazakhstan strives for diversification of economy of the country by introduction of new technologies from foreign countries in order to reduce dependence on resources and energy. I am confident that our country, which has high technologies in the sphere of energy saving, renewable energy sources, is an attractive partner for Kazakhstan. In October, 2011, Astana hosted the third session of the Joint Commission of Government and Private Sectors of Japan and Kazakhstan on economic cooperation, in which about 200 members of both countries took part. They actively exchanged opinions on opportunities of cooperation in the field of high technologies and innovations. I am confident that in the future, there is a great prospect for Japan's participation in important projects of Kazakhstan.


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The Japanese Government intends to continue to support the abovementioned aspirations of economic interests by establishment of legal frameworks. The Agreement between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy entered into force in May, 2011 after Convention for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income. At present the Agreement on liberalization between the two countries, which we hope to conclude in the nearest time, is at the negotiating stage.
In 2004 the Government of your country initiated the Japan+Central Asia dialogue. This year the IV meeting of foreign ministers will be held in Tokyo within the framework of the dialogue. What issues are on the agenda?

Our country considers promotion of interregional cooperation by joint solution of common problems by all countries of this region important for prosperity of Central Asia, as an open and stable region. The main goal of the Japan+Central Asian dialogue is promotion of interregional cooperation between the countries of Central Asia, in which Japan appears as a catalyst, supports efforts of these countries in this direction. This position has been unchanged since the first meeting of the foreign ministers was held in Astana within this dialogue.

This fall it is planned to carry out the fourth meeting of foreign ministers within the Japan+Central Asia dialogue in Tokyo, and it is the most important event among others dedicated to the 20 anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with the countries of Central Asia. We would like to successfully hold a meeting  with the participation of Kazakh Minister of Foreign Affairs Yerzhan Kazykhanov.

On the basis of the results of cooperation and discussion within the framework of this dialogue I would like to set five specific problems, for resolution of which cooperation between the five countries in the region is useful: environment, energy saving, renewable energy sources; millennium development goals and reduction of economic differences; cooperation aimed at stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan; cooperation in the field of prevention of natural disasters; trade and investments.
How do you assess promotion of Kazakhstan's initiative For a Nuclear-Free World?

Japan, as the only country in the world that has experienced the atrocity of nuclear bombardment in war, highly appreciates Kazakhstan's closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site of the soviet era and disposal of nuclear arsenal inherited from the Soviet Union. Since the establishment of the Japan-Kazakh cooperation committee for elimination of nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan back to 1994, Japan has been assisting Kazakhstan in nuclear disarmament. Japan has already channeled about 3.4 bln tenge to this committee. Currently, we are realizing the project on delivery of equipment to the Nuclear Physics Institute and Ulbinsky steelworks for enhancing the physical protection of nuclear materials.

Japan also highly appreciates Kazakhstan's denuclearization and its efforts as the leading country in the world dialogue on the way towards implementation of the For a Nuclear-Free World initiative. The international forum on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site held last October was a shining example enjoying the participation of ex-Foreign Minister Ms. Yoriko Kawaguchi, members of the Parliamentary Friendship League, Mayor of Nagasaki Tomihisa Taue. All this speaks for the approval of Kazakhstan's moves in this direction.
As is known, Japan is a CICA observer country. What is the organization's role in maintaining peace and security in Asia?

Japan and Kazakhstan signed a joint statement when President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev paid a visit to Japan. Japan announced its support for further CICA development and its intention to bolster the country's participation in the Conference in order to apply joint efforts for the sake of peace, security, stability and prosperity in Asia.  

I know, Kazakhstan suggests vitalizing the CICA role as a platform to debate the situation in Afghanistan and some regions of the world. To this end, it is crucial to multiply the positive results achieved and show the CICA is the platform where meaningful talks take place and new and important proposals emerge. Japan, on its part, will further follow the discussions at the CICA.
This year our countries mark the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations. What have the countries achieved for the past 20 years?

In my opinion, for the past 20 years of partnership our countries achieved sustainable development thanks to mutual visits and high-level political dialogues. During the high-level talks and ministerial meetings discussed were bilateral relations, urgent problems of the world community, reduction and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, climate change, and situation in some regions of the world. I would like to exchange opinions on further strengthening of partnership relations with Kazakh Foreign Affairs Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov who is expected in Japan this autumn.

Japan continues its assistance to Kazakhstan in building a new country since gaining its independence. We are glad to see Kazakhstan's bright development over the last years.  Besides, I would like to note that rapid economic growth of your country is the driving force of the Kazakh-Japanese economic ties, promoting, as I said before, implementation of various investment projects.

As for the new capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, the Government of Japan participated in feasibility analysis of the Astana development master plan based on the project of the Japan's architect. The countries expand also cooperation in the sphere of culture and education. The Kazakh-Japanese Human Resources Development Centre paves the foundation for cooperation in various fields.

The year of the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations both countries will hold different events to deepen mutual understanding between the two nations.
Thank you for the interview.