Nazarbayev Addresses Japanese Parliament, Says Effective Interaction and Confidence Key to Convergence of Asia

TOKYO – The second day of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s official visit to Japan on Nov. 8 was significant and symbolic due to his statement before the nation’s Parliament, where he spoke about international security measures taken by his country and noted the importance of joint efforts aimed at building a world free of nuclear threats.

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He also drew participants’ attention to his manifesto “The World. The 21st Century” delivered in March at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. Nazarbayev underlined the risk of using nuclear weapons is much higher now than at the end of the Cold War.

“The world creeps in a new nuclear age – potentially more dangerous and unpredictable. One of the most serious problems of the 21st century is the threat of nuclear terrorism, as well as illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials. An unprecedented crisis of confidence between the global players leads to the degradation of safeguards to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. Today, as never before, the political will of all leaders is required in order to reverse these negative trends,” said Nazarbayev.

The head of state focused his audience’s attention on the issues of regional security, noting the importance of strengthening confidence between Asian countries and the need for transforming the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) into the Organisation for Security and Development in Asia.

The President recalled many Japanese people once lived and still live in Kazakhstan. In this regard, Nazarbayev told the parliamentarians about the history of Ahiko Tetsuro, a Japanese prisoner of war who was sent to Kazakhstan in 1948 and has remained there.

He also noted the leading countries have currently been promoting a number of integration projects in Eurasia.

“Every country will be benefited thanks to creation of a peaceful, stable, prosperous and economically-strong Eurasia,” he said.

Nazarbayev highlighted that during Kazakhstan’s 25-year period of independence, the country undertook extensive transformation by evolving from a centrally-planned administrative system to a market system and has now begun its institutional reforms by adopting the 100 concrete steps Plan of the Nation.

“The plan helps to create the Kazakhstan of the 21st century as a state with a balanced political system and developed institutions of civil society. All this will allow our country to successfully confront the global negative trends and to join the group of the most developed countries of the world. We look forward to cooperating with Japan in order to achieve this ambitious goal,” said Nazarbayev.

“We are interested in building mutually beneficial cooperation in science-intensive areas and bringing advanced technologies and know-how from your country. I invite Japanese companies to join the Kazakh programme of industrial and innovative development and the privatisation campaign,” he said.

The President also had lunch Nov. 8 with representatives of leading Japanese companies, noting the meeting was one of the most important during his visit to Tokyo. He indicated the countries are cooperating on a very broad range of areas, including the oil and gas industry, metallurgy, finance and mining, adding there are more than 50 Japanese enterprises in Kazakhstan.

“At the same time, the capacity of our relations is not functioning in full. Therefore, today’s meeting is aimed at strengthening trade and economic interaction,” he said.

The head of state further underlined Kazakhstan has taken all measures to improve investment conditions and reached 35th place in the World Bank ease of doing business index.

“We have a liberal tax regime and a simple enough tax administration; there are only 13 kinds of taxes. We guarantee a stability of legislation with regard to the tax rates and in the field of employment. In 2015, we expanded the list of visa-free regimes for the citizens of 35 countries; next year, we are planning to increase it up to 56 states. Thus, Japanese investors can freely enter into Kazakhstan,” he said.

Nazarbayev also drew attention to the possibilities offered by the country’s privatisation programme, covering around 800 enterprises for a total amount of about $10 billion.

He urged Japanese companies to take an active part in the international specialised exhibition EXPO 2017, noting their nation’s pavilion with the “Mixed smart technologies – experience and challenges” theme promises to become the largest and most interesting.

The President added Kazakhstan has been actively modernising its transport infrastructure. The country participates in the New Silk Road project that allows addressing issues of logistics and opens new opportunities for interaction between business in the countries.

Nazarbayev also was presented with the Goi Peace Foundation 2016 Culture of Peace Special Award for his significant contribution to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. The prize is presented occasionally to honour individuals and organisations in various fields that have notably contributed to spreading and fostering peace around the world. The ceremony took place at the Akasaka state guest house in Tokyo.

As part of the ceremony, the head of state underlined the award demonstrates solidarity with the people of Kazakhstan who suffered from nuclear tests at the Semipalatinsk polygon. He noted its closure is an important date, after which Kazakhstan embarked on the path of building a world free of nuclear weapons. Nazarbayev expressed the conviction that in the 21st century, mankind will be able to find a decent way to reach a world free of nuclear threats.

During the meeting with the foundation leaders, Nazarbayev noted Kazakhstan is making a modest contribution to solving problems of global security and peace, disarmament and non-proliferation and the fight against terrorism, as well as to the settlement of regional issues. He expressed confidence the foundation could realise a number of projects in the fields of education, science and Kazakh culture, stressing the readiness to develop cooperation to promote the values of humanism and a culture of peace.

The Goi Peace Foundation is a public benefit organisation established in Tokyo in 1999. Its activities include educational and awareness-raising programmes, research and studies, international collaboration and networking and dissemination through publications and other media. Hiroo Saionji and his wife, Masami Saionji, formed the foundation and World Peace Prayer Society.

The Kazakh leader also met with Boao Forum for Asia Chairman and former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. He noted Kazakhstan takes an active part in the forum’s work, which is an important platform for high-level dialogue among politicians, business people and academia.

Nazarbayev emphasised the importance of strengthening the interaction between the Boao Forum and the Astana Economic Forum.

Fukuda noted Nazarbayev’s statement before Parliament was well received and his talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were very productive.