TASHKENT/DUSHANBE – Japan on Sunday pledged ¥12.7 billion in official development assistance to Uzbekistan — ¥12 billion in loans and ¥700 million in grant aid — for the purpose of upgrading power-generation facilities in the country as well as medical equipment at hospitals, Japanese officials said.
The agreement was reached during a bilateral summit meeting in Tashkent between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov.
For Uzbekistan, stabilizing the supply of electricity in rural areas is a matter of immediate concern.
With Japan’s assistance, the country wants to upgrade its economy, which relies heavily on primary industries.
Japan and Uzbekistan also struck a deal to speed up the process of introducing advanced Japanese industrial technologies to the Central Asian country, the officials said. Promoting the exchange of people between the two countries is another highlight of the deal, they said.
Japan believes that promoting close ties with Central Asian countries will help counter China’s increasing clout in the region.
During the talks, Abe told Karimov that ties between Japan and China are improving, but also pointed to China’s “worrying activities” in connection with issues such as the bilateral gas field development dispute in the East China Sea, Japanese officials said.
In a joint statement issued after the talks, Uzbekistan offered support for Japan’s efforts to reform and become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
It is the first time since 2006 that a Japanese prime minister has visited Uzbekistan, which is the largest among the five “stans” with a population of some 30 million.
Abe, who is traveling through resource-rich Central Asia, arrived in Uzbekistan early Sunday from Tajikistan. He is next scheduled to visit Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan before returning home Wednesday.
On Saturday Japan offered Tajikistan help with agriculture and infrastructure development, including some ¥900 million in grants.
The bilateral cooperation was touted in a joint statement following a meeting between Abe and Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe.
“Based on the achievements made in the talks, I will make efforts to further develop the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries,” Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to visit Tajikistan, said.
The two leaders also agreed on bilateral efforts to strengthen border control to prevent narcotics and weapons flowing into Tajikistan from neighboring Afghanistan, noting that the stability of Tajikistan and other central Asian countries was crucial for global society, the statement said.
Japan and Tajikistan also hope the framework will help prevent money laundering in an effort to counter terrorism.
Regarding agricultural assistance, Japan will help Tajikistan combat the damage to crops from locust plagues by working with the Food and Agriculture Organization on research to eradicate the insects.
It will also help with a project to rehabilitate water supply systems in the Pyanj district, situated in Khatlon region, to provide more drinking water and stem the spread of diseases through contaminated water.
The statement also noted the need to secure peace and stability.