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Japan: Silk Road Diplomacy July 11, 2019

Japan: Silk Road Diplomacy

The concept of Japan's Silk Road Diplomacy was first introduced in 1997 by Hashimoto Ryutaro, a former Japanese Prime Minister, to ensure Japan's access to diverse sources of energy supply. The plan covers the eight countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus, referred to as the "Silk Road region," and places them high on Japan's new foreign policy agenda. This Silk Road Diplomacy has since defined Japan's diplomatic engagement with Central Asia.

The objective of this strategy is twofold: to ensure diverse sources of energy supply by securing access to the treasure house of Central Asia (which has larger reserves of oil than the Middle East) so as to protect Japan's economic interests; and to establish a strong geopolitical presence in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

In 2004, Japan's Silk Road Diplomacy gained new momentum with the launch of the "Central Asia Plus Japan" dialogue in an effort to increase Japan's political influence and economic penetration and gain a leading role in energy development and trade in Central Asia. In 2012, Japan provided US$21.91 million worth of government development assistance to build roads, airports, bridges, power plants and canals in the Silk Road region. In October 2015, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo visited Mongolia and five Central Asian countries with the mission of reinvigorating the "Central Asia Plus Japan" dialogue focusing on cooperation in transport and logistics. These moves have been interpreted as Japan's attempt to counter China's Central Asia policy.


日本“丝绸之路外交”由时任首相桥本龙太郎于1997年首次提出,初衷是保障日本能源来源的多元化。桥本龙太郎倡议把中亚及高加索八国称为“丝绸之路地区”,并将其置于日本新外交战略的重要位置。此后,日本对中亚的外交逐渐被称为“丝绸之路外交”。日本提出这一战略有如下意图:一是从经济利益考虑出发, 保障自身能源来源的多元化,抢先占据中亚地区这个储量不亚于中东的能源宝库;二是从地缘政治着眼,谋求日本在中亚和高加索地区站稳脚跟。2004年,日本重提“丝绸之路外交”战略,并推动设立“中亚+日本” 合作机制,旨在通过加强政治影响和经济渗透来争取中亚地区的能源开发与贸易主导权。2012 年,日本向“丝绸之路地区”提供 2191.3 万美元的政府发展援助,投资领域涉及道路、机场、桥梁、发电站、运河等基础设施建设。2015 年 10 月,安倍晋三出访蒙古和中亚五国,目的是要激活“日本与中亚对话”机制,促进运输和物流等领域合作,这表明“日本针对中国的‘跟跑外交’策略已在中亚拉开帷幕”。