Japanese Involvement in Central Asia

An Early Inter-Asian Post-Neoliberal Case?

in Asian Journal of Social Science
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This paper looks into the role of policy-making carried out by various government officials in the Japanese financial community who contributed to the formulation and implementation of Japanese “Silk Road Diplomacy” in the 1990s and 2000s. Furthermore, it examines the role of key Japanese ministries in the overall Japanese geopolitical engagement in Central Asia. When the five Central Asian republics of the USSR became independent in 1991, they soon encountered a proactive engagement of Japanese diplomacy toward them. Besides boosting bilateral assistance and economic ties, official Tokyo has vigorously promoted the Central Asian states’ eligibility in many international financial institutions and provided extensive advice on reform policies. Both Japanese and Central Asian officials shared a preference for gradualism in economic reforms as a popular approach alternative to the Western neoliberalism in Central Asian countries, although the extent of embracing gradualism varied upon individual republics and advising officials. Spurred by the failures of the Washington consensus and financial crises of the 1990s, Central Asian gradualism can be regarded as an early precursor attempt at post-neoliberalism.