Indonesian president to seek deeper Japan defence ties

Indonesian president to seek deeper Japan defence ties
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his willingness to sign a memorandum of understanding to facilitate defence co-operation with Japan, during an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Saturday.

Joko was to arrive in Japan on Sunday for the first time as Indonesian president since taking office in October.

"Japan has good experience to manage its waters," the president said in the interview, conducted at the presidential palace in Bogor. "We want to learn [from it]."

Joko will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday.

The following are excerpts of the interview, which was conducted by Jakarta Correspondent Keita Ikeda.

The Yomiuri Shimbun: What is your analysis of the current status of the Indonesia-Japan relationship?

President Joko: Indonesia and Japan are old friends. For the past 57 years, we have had a good relationship. I hope my first visit as the president of Indonesia can attract and invite more investment from Japan, especially focusing on maritime infrastructure, power plants and industrial manufacturing.

For the maritime industry, I would like to discuss with Prime Minister Abe about how to make 24 seaports and deep-sea ports in Java, Sumatera, Kalimantan and Papua. I hope we can also talk about the fisheries industry, such as cold-storage factories. These are very important areas for Indonesia now.

Q: What do you plan to discuss with Mr. Abe in the defence area?

A: I hope to talk about the maritime industry and coast guards, because Japan has good experience to manage its waters. It's that good experience we want to learn [from] and I think it's good if we can co-operate in maritime industry and coast guard. My foreign minister and defence minister will be meeting their Japanese counterparts.

Q: Would you be signing a memorandum of understanding for defence co-operation?

A: Yes. This co-operation covers also how to work with Japan's Self-Defence Forces and also covers search and rescue operations, humanitarian assistance and cyberdefense.

Q: Do you have any concern over land reclamation by China in the South China Sea?

A: We need peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It is important to have political and security stability to build up our economic growth. So we support the Code of Conduct [of the South China Sea] and also dialogue between China and Japan, China and ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations].

Q: Does Indonesia plan to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank?

A: Yes, because it is very important, infrastructure is very important for my country. Investment is very important for my country. We need money to push our economic growth.

Q: In East Asia, there is tension between Japan, South Korea and China, which are all good partners of Indonesia. Does this worry you?

A: If we have peace and stability in the region, it will be good for our economic growth, for our people. Dialogues and meetings are very important for a solution for China, South Korea and Japan.

Q: Would you like to see the economic partnership agreement revised?

A: We want the condition to be win-win, the condition to be balanced; not us getting deficit and Japanese surplus, for example.

Q: How are you tackling radicalism and terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant?

A: No compromise, no tolerance for extremism and radicalism. Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world, and Islam in Indonesia is moderate and tolerant. We have three approaches to tackle radicalism and extremism: security, culture and religion.

Q: Hundreds of Indonesians are said to be joining ISIL. How do you plan to stop this flow?

A: Compared to other countries, they [the number joining ISIL] are very small, considering Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world. Now we are more strict and being watchful for our people that want to go to countries around Syria, and that is not easy. Sometimes they use tourist visas. What is important is to educate our people that extremism and radicalism are not part of our culture.

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