Indonesian President Seeks to Bolster Relationship With Japan; Joko Talks Economy, Security in Exclusive Interview

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who is currently chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), sat down for an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Friday, highlighting the importance of strengthening ties with Japan. This comes as a response to the rising assertiveness of China in the region.

In the interview, Joko emphasized the significance of safe and peaceful oceans in maintaining stability in the Indo-Pacific region. He expressed hopes for Japan to play a role in maintaining peace in the Indo-Pacific and supporting ASEAN’s outlook, particularly in the priority area of maritime cooperation.

The President also hinted at the South China Sea issue, which has seen China making unilateral claims that infringe upon Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone. While not explicitly mentioning China, Joko stressed Indonesia’s stance on respecting international law and principles for peaceful resolution in the region.

With regard to Japan’s security involvement, particularly in light of the illegal fishing activities by Chinese vessels near Indonesia’s Natuna Islands, Joko acknowledged Japan’s participation in various military exercises and defense equipment agreements. He voiced a welcoming stance toward Japan’s involvement amid China’s increasing influence.

In terms of the U.S.-China rivalry, Joko highlighted Indonesia’s neutral position and refusal to align with either party, emphasizing the importance of maintaining dialogue with both the U.S. and China.

On the issue of the conflict in Gaza, Joko expressed support for a two-state solution to achieve peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel, reflecting the concerns of Indonesia’s predominantly Muslim population.

Turning to economic cooperation, Joko expressed optimism about expanding ties between Japan and Indonesia, particularly in the areas of energy transition, decarbonization, electric vehicles, and digital sectors. He welcomed investments from all stakeholders, including Japan and China, and hoped to see increased collaboration in these sectors.

Notably, the proposed relocation of Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan Island, an initiative Joko views as his political legacy, faces challenges in attracting foreign investment. He highlighted the opportunities for future collaboration and urged for an expansion of investments, particularly in relation to Japan.

In conclusion, President Joko Widodo’s exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun shed light on Indonesia’s aspirations for closer ties with Japan, support for peace and stability in the region, and hopes for increased foreign investment and collaboration across various sectors.


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