Japan and Indonesia want to strengthen defense cooperation

Image Src -  Unsplash.com

Japan and Indonesia are calling for a reduction in tensions in the South China Sea and want to strengthen defense cooperation; talks on the export of Japanese military equipment will also accelerate, announced on Wednesday Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo.

During the two-day bilateral talks concluded on Wednesday, Japan agreed to grant the Jakarta government a loan of 50 billion yen ($ 470 million) to fight the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Tokyo has announced that it will engage in infrastructure projects in Indonesia, including the development of a high-speed rail network, and aid in the development of some Indonesian islands.

In addition, the countries agreed to accelerate talks on the export of Japanese military equipment and the resumption of business travel, previously suspended due to massive coronavirus infections.

Indonesia was the second stop on Suga's overseas journey, the first since he took office in September after his predecessor Shinzo Abe stepped down. Earlier, the new head of the Japanese government visited Vietnam, where he agreed to sign an agreement to allow the sale of military equipment and technology to that country.

During both visits, Suga emphasized that the countries of Southeast Asia were key to Japan's vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific." Commentators emphasize the context of this trip, which is China's growing activity in the region.

"I would like to re-emphasize the importance of not resorting to violence and extortion by all countries affected by the South China Sea issues and striving (in return) for peaceful solutions to disputes based on international law," the Japanese politician stressed on Wednesday.

The Indonesian leader expressed the hope that the reservoir would remain "a sea of ​​peace and stability".

Responding to journalists' questions, Suga explained that by promoting their regional vision, the authorities in Tokyo are not setting themselves the goal of creating an 'Asian NATO'. This reference to China's position: talks between Japan and India, Australia and the United States in the informal forum, Beijing described Beijing as a "mini-NATO" aimed at slowing down Chinese development.

Beijing reports historic claims of up to 90%. area of ​​the South China Sea, including the waters belonging to the neighbouring countries under applicable international law - Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. The basin through which most Chinese goods transit is rich in resources and strategically located. The United States conducts regular patrols, the so-called exercises in freedom of navigation.

Indonesia is not a party to the conflict, but its waters border on the reservoir in dispute. Over the past several months, incidents have occurred north of the Indonesian Natuna Islands following the arrival of Chinese cutters and coastguard ships. In January, Indonesian authorities responded by sending their own ships, planes and additional troops there.

Japan is having a dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea. Addressing this issue on Wednesday, Prime Minister Suga reiterated that his government was determined to defend its territory, territorial waters and airspace.

Tomasz Augustyniak (PAP)