Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to visit Kazakhstan and four other Central Asian countries in late August, hoping to strengthen ties with these resource-rich nations, according to government sources.
The five-nation tour will be aimed at expanding Japan’s sources for purchasing such energy and mineral resources as petroleum, natural gas and rare metals.
Abe is also looking into the possibility of holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the tour. Putin is said to be considering a visit to Kazakhstan around the time of the prime minister’s trip, according to the sources.
The envisioned tour is set to be the first of its kind by a Japanese leader since August 2006, when then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Central Asia.
The full itinerary will cover Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
During the tour, Abe intends to communicate Japan’s stance of aiding development in the countries by boosting private-sector investment and trade in natural resources.
Abe will also convey Japan’s policy of helping the nations improve their infrastructure by extending official development assistance.
An inflow of terrorists and narcotics from Afghanistan have been a serious cause of concern in the region. Thus Japan will also provide assistance with the construction of border control facilities and access to narcotics detection equipment.
Putin is reportedly considering a visit to Kazakhstan’s capital of Astana from Aug. 24 to 30 to attend the World Judo Championships.