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Turkey becoming Japan Inc.'s gateway to Central Asia

ISTANBUL -- Japanese companies are increasingly using Turkey as a steppingstone leading to the resource-rich markets of Central Asia and the Caucasus.

     The region boasts a wealth of natural gas, minerals and other resources, and its economies are growing fast. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan logged growth of 6-10% last year. Kazakhstan's gross domestic product per capita stands at about $12,000, above the $10,000 mark indicating affluence.

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