Indonesia and Japan have agreed that the two Asian powers must engage in stronger cooperation, including in the military sector, to contribute to regional security particularly in the Pacific area, which has been tense due to prolonged territorial disputes.
The commitment was made by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) commander Gen. Eiji Kimizuka when the two met at Yudhoyono’s office in Jakarta on Tuesday. “The two countries agree that Indonesian-Japanese ties are very good, robust and improving, especially in the sectors of defense and military,” Yudhoyono said upon welcoming his Japanese guests.
Accompanying the President were Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and Indonesian Army Commander Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo. The Japanese contingent included the JGSDF’s research, program and policy head Col. Yoshihisa Nakano, Japan’s Ambassador to Indonesia Yoshinori Katori and Japan’s Defense Attaché to Indonesia Capt. Toshiako Kondo.
The JGSDF is Japan’s ad-hoc army and the main branch of the Japanese military, the Japan Self-Defense Force.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said that both the Indonesian and Japanese sides highlighted the importance of promoting stability and security in regions such as Southeast Asia, Asia-Pacific and East Asia.
Japan has been involved in a prolonged dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea which has soured relationships between the two nations.
Marty said, however, the meeting did not specifically mention Japan’s territorial conflicts with China.
According to Purnomo, the meeting discussed potential military cooperation in five fields, namely education and training, human resources, the defense industry, counterterrorism, as well as disaster relief management.
“Indonesia and Japan are longtime partners in the economic sector. But these days, the Japanese government has initiated cooperation in defense-related fields too,” Purnomo said.
“After World War II, Japan’s development of its military was halted, focusing only on self-defense. But today, Japan has seen tensions with some countries, such as China and Russia. The development of the security situation in the region has prompted Japan to improve its military capacity and fleets,” he added.
According to Purnomo, Yudhoyono also invited the Japanese general to attend joint-counterterrorism exercises in the Indonesian Peace and Security Center (IPSC) in Sentul, West Java, in September.
The exercises are expected to involve counterterrorism forces from 18 countries worldwide.
“Japan has accepted the invitation and will send a delegation consisting of nuclear, biology and chemical specialists,” Purnomo said.
Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Jakarta two weeks ago and had a bilateral meeting with Yudhoyono at the state palace.
Japan has been Indonesia’s biggest trading partner for years. Trade between the two countries in 2011 reached US$53.15 billion with a surplus of $14.28 billion on the Indonesian side.