Beyond Hakuho: Advancing Japan-Mongolia Relations

Tokyo -- To the extent that Mongolia receives any attention in contemporary Japan, it is usually in the context of the minor scandals of former Yokozuna Asashoryu and the splendid recent performances of Yokozuna Hakuho.

It would be a mistake, however, to leave it at that, because Japan-Mongolia relations do seem to be picking up some momentum in recent months.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met in Hanoi with his Mongolian counterpart Gombojav Zandanshatar and discussed bilateral political and economic relations.

Zandanshatar told Okada that the people of his country consider Japan to be their "third neighbor" and that a comprehensive bilateral partnership was most desirable.

The two ministers agreed that Japan should become more deeply invested in Mongolian natural resources, such as the coal fields at Tavan Tolgoy as well as uranium mining. In exchange, Mongolia wants to get its hands on some of Japan's more advanced technologies.

Last December, Japan and Mongolia initiated the first steps toward a negotiation of a bilateral Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). The first public-private talks on this initiative were held last month in Ulan Bator.

Okada and Zandanshatar confirmed their mutual interest in advancing these talks when they met on Thursday.

Finally, arrangements are currently underway to have Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj visit Japan before the end of this year.

PanOrient News


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