Visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday held talks with Uzbek President Islam Karimov in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, focusing on energy ties.
Seeking to strengthen Japan's presence in Central Asia, Koizumi discussed oil, gas and uranium cooperation with Karimov, saying "Japan has much interest in Central Asia and intends to work more actively here."
"I hope my visit underlines Japan's intention to have closer ties with Uzbekistan," Koizumi said, adding that Japan, which imports practically all of its hydrocarbon supplies, needed diversity in its energy strategy.
Koizumi, who is expected to step down in September, arrived in Uzbekistan from Kazakhstan earlier in the day on the second leg of his two-nation tour.
This was the first visit by a Japanese premier to the region since the two ex-Soviet republics gained independence in 1991.
Meanwhile, the Uzbek president said there was huge potential in the two countries' relations, and Uzbekistan was ready to supply mine as well as oil, gas and other resources to Japan.
Koizumi, who left Japan for Kazakhstan on Monday, is expected to return to Tokyo on Thursday.