In June 2019, when I served as Minister of the Environment, I invited the Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Uzbekistan to our Ministry’s forum to discuss various environmental issues in Central Asia. These countries and Japan had few relations as we had little in common in terms of politics, economy and the natural environment. However, I decided to carry out the forum from the diplomatic viewpoint, and as a result we gained much more than we had expected.
After the forum ended, the government of the Kyrgyz Republic was willing to invite the Japanese Minister of the Environment to Kyrgyz and hold a forum on environmental issues in Central Asia, and for this purpose, the Minister of the Environment in the Kyrgyz Republic and I agreed to have a pre-meeting online. The network was unstable, but each of us could understand what the other was saying. If this expected forum is realized, Japan’s Minister of the Environment Shinjiro Koizumi will play a key role representing Japan. I myself will make the best efforts to assist the preparation of the forum. (One of their concerns is the Aral Sea. The Aral Sea is located between the southern part of Kazakhstan and the northern part of Uzbekistan in Central Asia. It was the fourth largest lake in the world in the 1960s, but mainly due to diverting the water in the rivers flowing into the lake to the canals for the farmlands under the then Soviet Union’s irrigation project, the lake has split into four lakes and shrunk to one-tenth of the original size, and dried up in the recent years. Since the lake is in the desert under the hot weather, the water in the lake has been evaporating constantly resulting in the increase in the water’s salinity. Consequently, the damages caused by the saltwater in the lake are now spreading not only throughout the lake but also all over the areas surrounding the lake. )