Japan to Collaborate with Turkmenistan on Decarbonization; Eyes Improving Ties with Central Asian Countries

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Itochu Corp. headquarters in Minato Ward, Tokyo

Japan and Turkmenistan agreed on Monday to strengthen cooperation in the fields of decarbonization and energy.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Ken Saito and Turkmenistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Rashid Meredov met in Tokyo and finalized the exchange of a memorandum of understanding on Monday. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Itochu Corp. will work together on a major project that will utilize the country’s natural resources.

Japan aims to counter China and Russia, which have been increasing their influence in recent years, by contributing to Central Asia in the environmental field.

The two officials confirmed a government-to-government cooperation policy with the view of introducing to Turkmenistan Japanese technologies related to fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia, which do not emit carbon dioxide during combustion, and carbon capture. Japan will also assist Turkmenistan in developing a process plan for decarbonization.

Turkmenistan is one of the world’s most resource-rich countries in terms of natural gas. Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Itochu will hold talks with the country’s state-run chemical corporation to build a plant that will recover methane, a greenhouse gas that leaks during natural gas production, and use it as a raw material for gasoline. The deal is expected to be worth several hundred billion yen.

A plant in Turkmenistan that produces ammonia and urea, which are raw materials for fertilizers, from natural gas is scheduled to be upgraded. The two companies will cooperate in this project by introducing equipment and materials as well as dispatching personnel. Applying for loans insured by Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), which is fully funded by the Japanese government, will be considered.

China and Russia have been holding summits to strengthen relations with five Central Asian countries that are rich in energy and mineral resources.

Japan, which is coordinating with these five countries to hold its first summits within this year, signed a similar memorandum of understanding with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan on Jan. 9. Japan is also seeking to strengthen ties with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.