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caspian policy center holds discussion on japan and south korea’s economic engagement in the caspian region

Caspian Policy Center Holds Discussion on Japan and South Korea’s Economic Engagement in the Caspian Region

Author: Caspian Policy Center


Washington, D.C. — ON OCTOBER 14, the Caspian Policy Center (CPC) hosted a panel of experts to discuss strengthening relations between the Caspian region and Japan and the South Korea.  

The webinar was hosted in conjunction with the release of “It’s Not Only China: Japan and Korea’s Growing Roles in Central Asia” policy brief. 

Efgan Nifti, Chief Executive Officer of CPC, opened the event with welcome remarks that highlighted take-aways that the global community can draw from East-Central Asian ties.  

“Economic and cultural projects connecting East Asia with Central Asia offer important lessons in global connectivity that are globally applicable.” Said Mr. Nifti.  

Discourse on East Asian involvement in Central Asia in Washington has been rooted in Chinese economic engagement. However, both Japan and the South Korea have played critical roles in the Caspian region. The webinar was moderated by Ambassador (ret.) Robert Cekuta, an advisory board member at the Caspian Policy Center and parked fruitful discussion on the extent of Japanese and South Korean interest in the region and mechanisms that could be employed to enhance this interest.  

Japanese and South Korean private firms are eager to penetrate the Caspian’s markets. To date, the number of South Korean private corporations coordinating with Central Asian companies has almost matched Chinese firms. The substantial Koryo-Saram communities, ethnic Koreans who were displaced to Central Asia under the Soviet Union, have provided South Korean firms a significant entry point into the region’s markets, according to the speakers. In addition, Japan was among the first nations to recognize the independences of the Central Asian republics and open diplomatic channels to facilitate stronger multilateral relations in the region.   

“We believe that the Central Asia and Caucasus region should be included in our cooperation between the US and Japan,” said Mr. Hiroyuki Suzuki, Chief Representative in Washington D.C. for the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.   

The speakers noted that more needs to be done to attract Japanese and South Korean firms to invest in Caspian markets. Dr. Timur Dadabaev, Director of the Special Program for Japanese and Eurasian Studies at the Graduate School of Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Tsukuba, noted “Japan, realizing the boundaries of its capacity to engage Central Asia on its own, is trying to form partnerships. The partnership with the U.S., that Mr. Suzuki already explained, is one important element. Another one that I highlight is the partnership with the European Union.”  

Furthermore, the speakers suggested promoting soft power educational programs between the Central Asian republics and both Japan and South Korea, such as scholarship opportunities, IT training sessions, and research support. Speakers also explored the idea of regional initiatives for growth. Dr. Sabina Insebayeva, Assistant Professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Tsukuba University said that “Central Asian countries need unifying principals, I believe that can bring the region together and Central Asia should be united by common values, norms and principles.”  

Japan and South Korea are both global economies with formidable enterprises wanting to grow their economic partnerships in the Caspian region. The speakers emphasized that taking advantage of this willingness is essential to advancing South Korean-Caspian relations and Japanese-Caspian relations.  

To sign up for updates or to learn more about the CPC’s work on this series, visit https://www.caspianpolicy.org/research/  




The Caspian Policy Center (CPC) is an independent, nonprofit research think tank based in Washington D.C. Economic, political, energy, and security issues of the Caspian region constitute the central research focus of the Center. CPC aims at becoming a primary research and debate platform in the Caspian region with relevant publications, events, projects, and media productions to nurture a comprehensive understanding of the intertwined affairs of the Caspian region.  

With an inclusive, scholarly, and innovative approach, the Caspian Policy Center presents a platform where diverse voices from academia, business, and the policy world from both the region and the nation’s capital interact to produce distinct ideas and insights about the outstanding issues of the Caspian region.  Learn more at caspianpolicy.org



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