Japan as Mediator Between US & Uzbekistan

by Nathan Hamm on 8/30/2006 · 1 comment

It appears that earlier speculation regarding Japan’s potential as an advocate for the US in Central Asia has proven true. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told President Karimov that Japan is willing to help restore Uzbekistan’s ties with the United States. And, quite interestingly, it seems as if the Uzbek government might take them up on it.

In a portion of the talks that was not publicized, Koizumi pressed Karimov to mend fences with the United States, according to a source inside the Uzbek Foreign Ministry. US-Uzbek relations have been in the deep freeze since the Andijan massacre in May 2005. Since then, Uzbekistan has concentrated on expanding security and political ties with Russia. But now Uzbek leaders appear to be reconsidering this approach.

“The Japanese offered to help us [improve relations] with America,” said the Uzbek Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There have been negotiations about reviving our relations with the United States, and Uzbekistan is considering [this idea].”

Because both the US and Uzbekistan are opposed to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, Japan suggested that this shared position could serve as a basis for reviving the relationship.

Japan also pressed the Uzbek government on civil rights and economic reform. They drove it home in quite an interesting way, too.

Japanese officials cited their country’s post-World War II development experience, in which Tokyo followed a course largely mapped out by American occupiers, and found stability and prosperity within decades of the war’s end.

For more on Koizumi’s visit to Uzbekistan, see RFE/RL’s brief wrap-up of the trip.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 1 comment }

Laurence August 31, 2006 at 5:56 am

I dunno that this will work. It seems a little insulting to Uzbek pride, unless the Japanese are giving away really big money. After all, America had to drop two atom bombs on Japan to convince them to do things our way. Plus, the country signed a military surrender, and agreed to military occupation that continues to this day. Uzbekistan kicked out US troops. I think that maybe, prior to Andijan, Uzbekistan thought it was an ally of the US in the war on terror, a junior partner–not a defeated enemy who had to agree to anything the USA demanded of them.

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