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"Japan's soft power" in Central Asia
Material posted: Publication date: 30-01-2014

In contemporary international relations, soft power is an important component of a successful foreign policy. The concept of "soft power", introduced into scientific circulation by Harvard University Professor J. Hiring in 1990, implies ability to achieve its objectives by influencing the behavior of other actors not through coercion, but through cooperation and persuasion.

Soft power of a state consists in its appeal, which is primarily based on three resources: culture (as far as she is attractive to others), political values (as far as the state meets) and on foreign policy (when it is legitimate and based on moral authority).

Japan as a country that renounced the use of military force in solving international disputes, and rarely resort to economic methods of coercion (sanctions) naturally relies on soft power. The potential of its soft power includes traditional and modern culture, business model, innovation and other aspects.

Traditionally, the region, the main resources of soft power, is East Asia. At the same time and in Central Asia soft power is an integral part of an overall foreign policy strategy of Japan.

What are the characteristics of Japan's foreign policy in Central Asia? First, this is a relatively short history of development of diplomatic relations. The relationship with the young Central Asian republics were established in the early 1990s in a relatively short period of time Japan has set a goal to gain a foothold in the region, and achieved certain results. Secondly, Japan initially emphasized a common Asian identity with these countries. Cultural and racial similarity and, as a result, special emotional intimacy became part of official rhetoric. Thirdly, unlike East Asia, in this region the reputation of Japan is not marred by the experience of military aggression. Moreover, some scholars even talk about "warm memories of the countries of the region, associated with the victory of Japan over Russia in 1905" the population of Central Asia remember the tens of thousands of Japanese prisoners of war who were on the territory of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan after the second world war. Still preserved of the buildings built by their hands, for example, the Central Telegraph office and the Ministry of culture in Tashkent, Academy of science in Almaty, Farkhad hydroelectric power station in Tajikistan.

Japan's interest in Central Asia existed long ago. The first Japanese who visited the region, considered a Japanese diplomat Nishi, Tokujiro. In 1880 he made a journey in Russian Turkestan, and in 1886 published a book "the Description of Central Asia". Central Asia attracted attention not only as a region where the unfolding Great game between Russia and Britain, but also as a source of undiscovered cultural resources. In this regard, particular note taken in the period between 1902 and 1914, three missions, who organized the count of Kozui Otani (1876-1948), the 22nd Abbot of the Nishi Honganji temple in Kyoto. The mission made a significant contribution to the study of cultural and religious heritage of the Great silk Road, today the collection she divided between museums in Kyoto and Tokyo, part of which is in China and Korea.

The discovery in the Soviet era Buddhist ruins Agintea (South of Tajikistan 1960s), Kara-Tepe near Termez, Dalvarzintepa in the South of Uzbekistan contributed to the growth of interest in the region, which peaked after the broadcast of a broadcasting company of EN-aitch-Kay multiseries documentary film "the Great silk Road" in the 1980s in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Japanese researchers began to take part in joint archeological expeditions to the region.

It is cultural and historical significance of Central Asia as a route through which Buddhism came to Japan, formed the basis of the first initiatives in the region. According to one of the developers of Japanese diplomacy in this direction, T. Hirose, initially Tokyo underscored the "microcosmic character" of the region and its importance to humankind. With extension Eurasian diplomacy more emphasis was placed on historical and cultural ties with Japan, what was the motive of the development of Diplomacy of the silk road after 1997 it is no coincidence that with a speech that proclaimed the beginning of the Eurasian diplomacy former Prime Minister R. Hashimoto especially underlined "deep-rooted in Japan nostalgia in relation to the region, coming from the glorious days of the silk Road".

Efforts to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of Central Asia, given its importance for the development of world civilization, has become an important task of Japan as a state aspiring to play a prominent role in international cultural cooperation. Moreover, some saw it as its moral obligation towards the region: since Japan went through the Great silk Road, today, reaching a high level of development and welfare, she has to "repay the debt" of Central Asia. Thus, the historical and cultural commonality has become an element of soft power in relations with countries of the region.

Based on this commonality, Japan aims to develop the most attractive aspects of his image. One of its constituents has long been positioned the postwar model of development. Former foreign Minister Taro ASO summarized its essence as "peace and happiness through economic prosperity and democracy".

For the Central Asian States that were in the way of economic development and with traditions of the planned economy of the socialist type, Japanese version, providing for a dominant role of the state in the economy was of interest. In turn, Tokyo has repeatedly stressed the benefits of a smooth transition to a market economy, contrasting the "Japan-East Asian model" "Anglo-Saxon". From Japan have been sent experts, organized courses in the field of Economics and business management, in order to pass the Japanese experience.

The theme of democracy constantly present in the agenda of relations of Japan and Central Asia, especially actively it is promoted Taro ASO, who conducted "diplomacy of values" against the "Arc of freedom and prosperity", including Central Asia. He believed that Japan can play an important role in nation building and promoting democracy, peace and freedom, human rights, rule of law and market economy in the region.

It appears that this may be considered an element of Japanese soft power in the region since the Japanese approach to the process of democratization is fundamentally different from the Western one. Japan stands for "democracy through development", considering that the rise economic prosperity will lead to improving the situation with democracy and human rights. This approach is partly attributed to the fact that in Japan democracy was imposed from outside during the post-war reform of the political system. Thus, promoting democracy in Central Asia, Japan has been a follower of Western values with Eastern characteristics, which is much more impressed with the local regimes than the rigid approach of Europe and the USA.

In addition to the model of economic development, the attraction of Japan lies in its status as a leader in the field of innovative development. Both Japan and the countries of the region have repeatedly stressed that Japanese technology and natural resources of Central Asia are complementary. Information technology center operates in Kyrgyzstan, there is a discussion of the prospects for development of center of high technologies in Turkmenistan. Leaders of the Central Asian States are showing interest in Japanese innovation, and the population believes Japan is a desirable partner from the point of view of technical and scientific cooperation (for example, answered 47% of respondents in Kazakhstan and 45% in Uzbekistan).

Linked to this is the image of Japan as a state, giving special importance to environmental issues. Tokyo is actively involved in projects to save the Aral sea, as well as to eliminate radioactive pollution in the Semipalatinsk region. International activities in the fight against climate change, the developed "green technology", the established waste-free production not only reflect the experience of Japan, at the time, faced with serious environmental problems, but also is based on the traditional Japanese concept of thrift (mottainai). Lately she focuses on the promotion of energy saving technologies and renewable energy sources arouses interest in Central Asia.

One of the most successful and visible examples of the use of Japan's soft power tools is the official development assistance. In the early 1990s, Japan stated that "as an Asian country, will provide significant assistance to the former Soviet States of Asia". Japan has long been the largest donor of ODA in the region, while stressing that the aid is unselfish nature that Tokyo is not seeking access to the natural riches of the region and set up before the formation of long-term friendly relations with the countries of Central Asia.

One of the ways to help is to assist in solving problems related to the field of human security. They include poverty reduction, disaster prevention, improving the level of medical care and health, etc., for example, based on my experience the only country that experienced atomic bombings, Japan took the initiative to hold the conference on Semipalatinsk in 1999 and has provided assistance in the health sector to the community. Great attention is paid to the Tokyo projects in education, agriculture, etc. Through these efforts in Central Asia firmly entrenched image of Japan as a provider of non-military security.

An important tool for the projection of soft power is cultural and public diplomacy. In Japan, these two concepts are closely related, in the foreign Ministry they are marked as public cultural diplomacy (Bunka koho Haiko). Under the supervision of Professor S. Kondo, the Japanese, by their nature, tend to introduce their own system of values, which is a resource of soft power, rather indirectly, through artistic expression or creativity, rather than directly in the form of words and ideas. Therefore, cultural diplomacy is of special importance for understanding the politics of soft power of Japan.

The main directions of cultural diplomacy include the dissemination of information about Japan, learning traditional and modern culture, measures to promote the Japanese language, the organization of human exchanges and cooperation with international organizations in the field of culture.

Cultural diplomacy certainly plays a key role in the rapprochement between Japan and Central Asian States, enhance mutual understanding, maintain emotional intimacy. It comes as a huge reservoir of traditional culture, and the active promotion of modern youth culture. In Central Asia regularly hosts events dedicated to Japan, not only in the capitals but also cover a wide geography of countries.

Special attention to the Japanese government pays educational programs aimed both at young people and professionals. There are English programs for students, trainees and researchers, internship for teachers, the program "young leaders", designed for government officials, workers in health care, industry, law, etc., budding as future leaders of Asian countries, graduate programs in Japanese universities.

At the same time develop inter-University ties. For example, Japanese Hosei universities, Waseda, Tsukuba, and other programs of student exchanges with leading educational institutions of the region. At the University of Tsukuba in September 2006, the international Center of Central Asia engaged in joint research and development in the field of teaching.

The launch of the dialogue "Central Asia plus Japan" in 2004 contributed to the formation of a unified approach to cultural interaction with countries in the region. First, cultural and humanitarian exchanges made independent. Secondly, in 2004 the Minister of foreign Affairs Th.Kawaguchi announced that Japan plans to adopt within 3 years 1000 trainees from Central Asia. Using educational programs, Tokyo has engaged young people from Central Asian countries, is creating a new generation of political and business elite, familiar with the land of the rising sun, ready and willing to cooperate with it.

It is anticipated that the launch of the Intellectual dialogue in the framework of the initiative "Central Asia plus Japan" can be regarded as manifestations of the policy of soft power. With this dialogue, Japan engages in the work of experts, i.e. persons with an influence on the formation of public opinion. Thus, combining work with young people and dialogue with members of the elite Tokyo strengthens soft power in the region.

An important element of this work is to enhance the popularity of the Japanese language. Teaching of the Japanese language in the universities of Central Asia has a relatively short history. First Japanese course was recruited in 1990 at the faculty of Oriental studies of Tashkent state University. In 1991, the teaching of Japanese began in Kyrgyzstan, and in 1992 in Kazakhstan. In the three Central Asian States — Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan conducted examinations on Japanese language (proficiency test). Since 1997, in these countries there is an annual competition of the Japanese language among students of Central Asia. In Tajikistan and Turkmenistan familiarity with the Japanese language started relatively recently.

By using complex activities related with Japanese language, and thanks to the support of associations of teachers of Japanese and other similar associations formed and supported by a network, a community associated with interest in Japan and Japanese language.

During the first years of Japanese language education in Central Asian countries, its popularity has grown considerably, but today the trend is toward reduction in the number of students and educational institutions where the language being studied. So, as of 2009, the teaching of the Japanese language in Central Asia was only about 0.3% of the total number of all educational institutions in the world where this language is taught. For this indicator, Central Asia is located on the penultimate place, before North Africa. 2009. g Japanese language students in Central Asia accounted for 0.1% of learners of Japanese language in the world. A growing number of students choosing as a second foreign language in University is Chinese language, including transitioning from Japanese to Chinese in the process of teaching and learning Japanese as a hobby.

The implementation of a policy of soft power mostly takes place through the embassies, as well as collaborative centres for human resource development, established by agreements between the governments of the Central Asian countries and the Japanese international cooperation Agency (JICA), also known as Japanese centers.

The first of the Japanese Embassy in Central Asia was opened in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in January 1993, Tajikistan in January 2002, in Kyrgyzstan in January 2003, in January 2005 in Turkmenistan. Embassies are involved in advocacy and in the implementation of educational and cultural programs of the Japan Foundation.

Joint centers for human resource development since the beginning of the 2000s operate in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Their main activities include business courses, Japanese language education, computer classes, assistance information and cultural exchange. The centres play an important role in the dissemination of the Japanese language. If you have previously studied Japanese mainly in public institutions, with the opening of centers of language became available to everyone. In addition, the centers provide support to language teachers and educational institutions - courses for teachers, provide learning materials. They are activities associated with language, such as contests, theme meetings, lectures, and exams for internships in Japan. In Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, such centers are absent.

At the same time the feature of soft power is that it cannot be reduced to public policy, on the contrary, it played a prominent role of non-state actors. In this regard, it is worth noting that in the first stage of formation of relations between Japan and Central Asia was of great importance, the personal aspect. It is as high-ranking officials, advocating the strengthening of relations with particular countries, and workers of culture (famous artist Hirayama Ikuo, one of the authors of the idea of establishing cultural-educational center "international caravanserai of culture" in Uzbekistan), as well as regular citizens who have made a significant contribution to strengthening of ties (engineer Osaka, Shigekazu on own funds based in Uzbekistan Japanese language school Noriko hacky). The activities of these people can be considered as a manifestation of soft power, because they have made a personal contribution to the formation of a favorable attitude towards their country among the inhabitants of Central Asia.

In the years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Japan has gained the significant potential of soft power in Central Asia. The popularity of Japanese culture and sports, successful activity centres for human resource development, active cultural exchanges testify to the interest of the residents of the region to the land of the rising sun. Japan's image as a technologically developed country, a leader in solving global problems, models of economic and democratic development appeals to the countries of Central Asia.

At the same time, because of the nature of soft power policies, long-term and rather on the enabling environment than on specific outcomes, the performance measure is difficult. Public opinion polls, the popularity of Japanese centers and cultural events do not provide a clear picture, allowing to speak about the influence of Japan in the region. In addition, soft power is most effective when supported by other factors of mutual interest, such as economic, and it should be considered in combination with other components of diplomacy. We can assume that Japanese soft power in the region will face new challenges, caused by the active cultural diplomacy of China, as well as the growing presence of South Korea.

Domestic Policy


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