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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Japan, Kazakhstan in nuclear cooperation

Japan and Kazakhstan signed Monday an agreement to increase nuclear cooperation.

"The statement will serve as a basis for even broader cooperation between our countries, including in the sphere of nuclear power, and in particular, in developing uranium deposits," said Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

Japan's 55 nuclear reactors produce 30 percent of the country's electricity.

Koizumi said Japan, which imports nearly all of its oil, is seeking stronger relations with Kazakhstan. The former Soviet republic has at least a quarter of the world's uranium deposits, and is rich in crude oil.

"We are interested in attracting direct Japanese investment into our country's economy, particularly in the production of goods with high added value, and are ready to provide necessary preferences," said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Trade between Kazakhstan and Japan in January-June 2006 was $439.2 million, up 21 percent from the same period last year.

Ahead of his four-day trip to Central Asia, Koizumi said Japan would look to the region for its energy security.

"For our strategy on energy resources, it is not good for Japan to be too dependent on the Middle East," he said. "Both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are blessed with abundant resources."

The comments were reported by the Kyodo news agency.

He heads to Uzbekistan Tuesday.

Japan, the world's No. 3 consumer of energy, is trying to shore up energy resources amid political tension in the Middle East and increased competition in Asia among China, India and South Korea for global energy resources.

UPI Energy Watch
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