POLICY

Visit to Japan

By Seitek Kachkynbaev
December 20, 2022
In mid-September, I was lucky enough to visit the Land of the Rising Sun. My visit symbolically coincided with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and Japan. My visit consisted of three parts in terms of content: 1) official meetings, with professors of the scientific community, representatives in charge of trade relations; 2) visiting historical and cultural sights of Japan; and 3) meeting with compatriots from the Kyrgyz Republic.
tea ceremony experience
Since for the last 2 years I have been working as the director of the Bishkek Business Club (BDK consists of businessmen who are united by the universalist values of liberal democracy and a free market economy), the official meetings in JETRO (The Japan External Trade Organization) and ROTOBO (Japan Association for Trad with Russia and new Independent States) were very fruitful.

Most of all I remember the frank and sincere conversation when it came to the prospect of cooperation and relations between the business circles of the Kyrgyz Republic and Japan. I believe that Kyrgyz entrepreneurs need to take note of several points in order to enter the Japanese market, as well as to attract Japanese investment to the Kyrgyz market. I would like to dwell on them in more details. Apart from the objective reasons (difficulty in logistics due to long distances, lack of direct airlines, lack of a legislative framework that guarantees the sanctity of private property), the main problem is that Kyrgyz market is unknown for Japanese businessmen. Due to the small scale of the market of only one country, Japanese businessmen look at all of Central Asia as one single market. Therefore, in addition to the problem of integration of the trade markets of the Central Asian countries, our Kyrgyz entrepreneurs are also required to have a clear and detailed profile about the company and their products in English and Japanese. And most importantly, a clear and precise vision of our businessmen from the business community about possible scenarios for cooperation with Japanese partners. Unfortunately, for 30 years of establishing diplomatic relations between our countries in the Kyrgyz market today we can see only 5 Japanese companies. For comparison, let's say, in the same geographically isolated country from the world, similar to our country of Mongolia, there are more than 650 Japanese companies. Kyrgyz-Japanese business relations, according to the former Ambassador of Japan to the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. Maeda, who also represented JETRO in the past, use only 2% of the total potential. Indeed, these facts are not very comforting. However, I am sure that with such economic freedom, a favorable business climate, as well as rich human resources who know Japan from the inside, the Kyrgyz authorities and entrepreneurs will make every effort to reach the next desirable level of cooperation and relations with Japan.

As a graduate of the Department of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University, it was gratifying to meet again with my professor, Ito Takayuki, and former fellow students in the faculty. In Japan, a meeting of graduates of one educational institution is usually called “dosokai”, where four students of our professor gathered this time. The main topic of conversation was Russia's aggression in Ukraine this year and the future of peace in the world. Everyone was worried about the question - what will happen next in Ukraine, who will take Putin's place after him and what kind of world order awaits us in the future.
Sightseeing in Kyoto
Meetings were also held at the universities of Kyoto and Hokkaido. Hokkaido University is famous for its Slavic Studies Center, which pleasantly surprised me with its impressively rich archive on the history of the former Soviet Union countries. Here, for example, I found a complete electronic filing of the newspaper “Sovettik Kyrgyzstan”, published in past the Kirghiz SSR. Our compatriot, young researcher Mirlan Bektursunov works there. By the way, the city of Sapporo is located approximately at the same geographical latitude as Bishkek, so the local climate is very similar to Bishkek.

According to the program, I held the next meetings with Kyrgyz entrepreneurs from the Kansai region and Kanto, separately. Our businessmen have settled in Japan for more than ten years and actively contribute to the development of trade relations between our countries. One compatriot has more than fifteen employees in the company from the Kyrgyz Republic alone. Among them there are also entrepreneurs who are engaged in the export of the famous Kyrgyz white honey to Japan, which is sold in Japanese online stores for about 15-23 US dollars per 200g.

This time I visited Japan 3 years after my last visit. Considering that in general I spent more than ten years of my life in Japan, so Japan has become my second home for me. On the one hand, in terms of mission the trip became very intense and useful due to the tight schedule, on the other hand, at the same time, it allowed me to “deal with my second home homesickness”. Washyoku-style morning meals, lunches and dinners at ramen and sushi restaurants, visits to Zen temples and Shinto shrines, art and Japanese language museums, and training in the nin-jutsu hall truly made my visit rich.
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