Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan met with Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Keiichi Ishii in Tokyo on Dec. 21 and sought Japan’s support for a plan to upgrade a local railway line in Java into a high-speed rail system. It appears that Indonesia is looking to overhaul the existing lines by using yen loans and Japan’s technological cooperation. Last year, it awarded a high-speed railway project, which Japan sought to win, to China. It may have in mind offering Japan another project to keep a balance with Japan and China.
The planned project covers the local line which stretches about 730 kilometers from Jakarta, the capital of the country, to Surabaya, the second largest city there. The total cost is estimated at around 102 trillion rupiah (about 890 billion yen). If realized, it will become one of Indonesia’s largest railway projects financed by Japan.
It appears that the Indonesian government is considering financing civil engineering portions, such as the repair of railway tracks, through yen loans and using private funds for the purchase of new trains.
The railway renovation project in Java is also drawing the interest of China and other countries. But construction of the high-speed rail project awarded to China has yet to begin as the Chinese side does not agree to extend loans till land expropriation is completed. Indonesia’s growing distrust toward China appears to be a reason behind its request for Japan’s support. (Abridged)