(Sankei: March 25, 2015 – p. 2)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Indonesian President Joko Widodo have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in maritime security.
They also agreed to hold 2+2 talks between the foreign affairs and defense ministers of both countries and launch a high-level “maritime forum” between the two nations.
We welcome the fact that they affirmed the freedom of navigation in the sea and air and resolution of conflicts based on international law in their joint statement, with China in mind.
Like Japan, Indonesia is a maritime state in the Asia-Pacific region that shares the common values of freedom and democracy. It is important for the two nations to cooperate closely to counter China’s continuous maritime advances.
Mr. Widodo is Indonesia’s first non-elite president who is not a former military officer and not from a rich family. While he has little diplomatic experience, it is notable that he put forward a “maritime state vision” on maritime defense, resources management, and port construction soon after he took office. He has taken a tough stance on China’s attempts to change the status quo by force in the sea.
Prime Minister Abe expressed his support for this vision during the bilateral summit, while President Widodo sought cooperation in coastal security. A memorandum on defense cooperation and exchanges was signed. Japan should actively provide support for Indonesia’s coastal security.
Except for trips to participate in international conferences, Japan is the first country President Widodo has visited outside the ASEAN states. He will move on to China to meet with President Xi Jinping.
Indonesia is participating in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It is understandable that it is attaching importance to economic relations with China.
However, there are many areas where Japan can make a contribution. We would like to cite in particular the great potential of introducing Japan’s advanced environmentally-friendly infrastructure technology.
Prime Minister Abe announced the provision of 140 billion yen in loans for urban rail and power transmission network construction. Japan has long given Indonesia support in infrastructure building. It should be able to compete with China’s ample funds with its proven technology.
Indonesia accounts for 40% of ASEAN’s population and GDP. Many Japanese companies, including automakers, are doing business there.
The summit meeting affirmed the promotion of trade and investment. Concrete results in these areas will also contribute to Japan’s economic growth.