Japan Boosts Ties with Central Asia

December 24, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. seal /sil/ (v.) – to confirm or approve
Example: The two CEOs sealed their agreement with a signed contract.

2. suffix /ˈsʌf ɪks/ (n.) – something added at the end of a word
Example: Add the suffix “-ful” to the noun “cheer” to turn it into the adjective “cheerful.”

3. pledge /plɛdʒ/ (v.) – to promise to do or give something
Example: The businessman pledged to give half of his company’s earnings to the charity.

4. resume /rɪˈzum/ (v.) – to continue after a period of interruption
Example: We will resume our weekly sessions after the building’s renovation is finished.

5. prominent /ˈprɒm ə nənt/ (adj.) – widely known or talked about
Example: The new mayor is from a prominent family in the city.


Read the text below.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe headed to Central Asia in October this year in hopes of sealing business deals that might boost Japan’s economy.

Central Asia, known informally as “the ‘stans”, is composed of five countries ending in that suffix: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan [kir-gi-STAHN], Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Central Asian countries are known for natural resources like oil and natural gas. However, they lack industrialization and proper infrastructure, which Japan aims to provide with its partnerships.

Accompanying Abe were representatives of around 50 Japanese companies that planned to sign deals with the Central Asian countries.

One of the biggest deals closed during Abe’s week-long trip was for a natural gas plant worth one trillion yen (around US$8 billion) in Turkmenistan. Abe also pledged aid for Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and resumed loans in Kyrgyzstan. Japan had previously stopped providing loans for Kyrgyzstan back in 1999, after the country failed to repay them on schedule.

Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, Abe and Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev [noor-sool-TAHN   nah-zahr-BAHY-ehv] discussed nuclear policies and agreed to strengthen nuclear test bans.

Since his re-election in 2012, Abe has already visited more than 50 countries in an effort to expand Japan’s international ties and presence. He now holds the title of the most well-traveled prime minister of Japan.

His other prominent trips this year include his visit to the Middle East in January and his trip to the United States in April, where he was the first Japanese prime minister to speak at a US Congress joint meeting.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think Japan will benefit from these partnerships?
·         What other countries or regions would you want your country to work closely with? Why?

Discussion B

·         What issues or aspects should be the top priorities of presidents and prime ministers?
·         If you were a president or prime minister, what would you want to be known for?

December 24, 2015