Аfter the breakup of the U.S.S.R., Japan began developing and implementing its foreign policy towards Central Asia (CA). Japan’s attention to countries in the region was determined by its long-term economic and political interests. First and foremost, Japan was interested in gaining access to the assets of CA countries: their fuel and energy complex and mineral deposits. The need to address this problem was dictated by the country’s limited natural resources and its heavy dependence on hydrocarbon imports. Accordingly, Japanese policy was aimed to gain unimpeded access to the hydrocarbon resources of CA countries and create reliable export routes for oil and gas in the interests of its own economy. This is why the creation of alternative pipeline routes for transporting oil and gas from Central Asia was a key goal for Japan. But its achievement was hindered by Central Asia’s geographical remoteness. As a result, Japan lost out to China, which borders on CA countries. Nevertheless, Japan proposed a number of pipeline projects that should have given it access to Central Asian resources, mainly through Chinese territory. Japan tried to create multilateral formats of cooperation with CA countries by launching various initiatives. But Tokyo’s efforts failed to produce a positive result in view of the disunity and heterogeneity of countries in the region, which did not constitute a single geopolitical unit. Domestic political processes in the CA countries developed differently as they faced a set of economic and social problems. As a result, Japan built its policy regarding the Central Asian countries mainly on a bilateral basis. Of particular interest to Japan were Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, which have significant oil and gas reserves. Although Japan’s long-term goals have practically not changed over time, its Central Asia policy can be divided into several stages, each of which has its own specific features determined by the development of the geopolitical situation in Central Asia, the influence of other extra-regional states on countries in the region, and the interests of the Central Asian countries. In recent years, Japan has actively implemented its policy by expanding bilateral cooperation while retaining an interest in multilateral cooperation formats. © 2020, CA and C Press AB. All rights reserved.