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Cambridge Central Asia Forum


Cambridge Central Asia Forum in collaboration with the Centre of
Development Studies and GCRF COMPASS Project, University of Cambridge 
invites you to a talk by

Dr Nikolay Murashkin, JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and
Development (Tokyo)


Not-so-new Silk Roads: Japan's foreign policy and development
cooperation in Central Asia

Date: 28 May
Time: 11-1pm (UK)
Venue: Zoom. Please register in advance at

Abstract: This talk examines Japanese involvement in post-Soviet Central
Asia since the independence of these countries in 1991. It analyses
various drivers of this multi-lateral relationship, where Japanese
policy oscillated between proactivity and reactivity, focusing on
development cooperation, pragmatism and geo-economics. Furthermore, it
argues that Japan’s impact on Central Asia and its connectivity has been
underappreciated in extant scholarship and that Japan’s infrastructural
footprint in the so-called New Silk Road region significantly pre-dated
China’s Belt and Road Initiative, while that the financial and policy
contribution driven by Japanese officials was of a similarly important
scale. In terms of geographic and sectoral scope, this study analyses
Japan’s ‘New Silk Road’ involvement in the context of Japan’s ties with
China, Russia, Korea, and the U.S., examining security, history, and the
political economy of finance and energy. It shows how Japan was among
the first major power outside of post-Soviet Central Asia to articulate
a dedicated ‘Silk Road’-labelled diplomacy vis-à-vis the region before
the United States and China, and the first to sponsor pivotal
assistance. The research contributes to emerging scholarship on
connectivity infrastructure in Asia—often shaped by strategic
communications and projections—by highlighting Japan’s regional role and
shows how our understanding of international relations and political
economy in inter-Asian ties can be better informed by economic history
and area studies.

Biography: Dr Nikolay Murashkin is a scholar of contemporary Japanese
foreign policy and international relations in the Asia-Pacific, working
as a research fellow at the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for
Peace and Development (Tokyo). His current research interests include
Japan’s development cooperation and economic statecraft, the politics of
connectivity infrastructure and finance in the Indo-Pacific and Eurasia,
and international politics in Northeast Asia. He earned his Ph.D. from
the University of Cambridge with a dissertation focusing on contemporary
Japanese foreign policy in Central Asia and its involvement in various
New Silk Road projects. He has conducted research as a Japan Foundation
Fellow at Waseda University, Tokyo.

Prior to that, Nikolay completed a Master’s degree at Sciences Po Paris,
subsequently working as an analyst in a London-based bank on commodity
finance transactions in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Nikolay has
published book chapters and research articles in a number of
peer-reviewed journals, such as Australian Journal of International
Affairs, Asian Journal of Social Sciences, New Zealand Journal of East
Asian Studies and others. He was the winner of the 1st prize of the
Japan Foundation and the Association of Japanologists for the best
academic paper on Japanese politics by a junior scholar in 2013.
Nikolay's most recent work is his monograph Japan and the New Silk Road,
published in 2020. It focuses on Japan's policies in Central Asia and
covers various aspects of diplomacy, development and connectivity

Everyone is welcome.

Friday, 28 May, 2021 - 11:00 to 13:00
Event location: