Yoshihide- Japan pledges military gear for Indonesia to defend free and open Indo-Pacific
Japan and Indonesia’s ministers of defense and foreign affairs pledged on Tuesday to tighten their military ties to face an assertive China as the two countries hold talks in Tokyo, Reuters reports.
“It’s getting hard to take for granted the premises that have been supporting peace and prosperity of the international community,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said at the start of the meetings.
“Today, I would like to hold talks to boost our broad-ranging cooperation to higher levels,” he said.
Kyodo reports that Japan and Indonesia signed a deal enabling exports of Japanese-made defense equipment. The accord on the transfer of defense equipment and technology was signed after the foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Indonesia met in Tokyo for the so-called two-plus-two talks, the second of its kind between the two countries since 2015.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he hopes the envisaged pact will be the “foundation of further security cooperation between the two countries,” when he met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto ahead of the two-plus-two meeting.
“To realize the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, I’d like to advance specific cooperation,” Suga also told the Indonesian ministers at his office, Kyodo reported.
China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas have become a priority issue in an increasingly testy Sino-U.S. relationship and are an important security concern for Japan.
The meetings follow a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who warned China over “coercion and aggression” and criticised what it called Beijing’s attempts to bully neighbours with competing interests.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has said she has also been in close contact with Motegi to discuss the Myanmar situation and coronavirus disease responses.
Retno has emerged as a regional leader as she works to broker talks with the Myanmar military, which has killed more than 500 protesters since staging a coup on February 1.
Japan has extensive business interests in Myanmar and provides it with official development assistance. Tokyo has condemned the killings but has so far refrained from meting out sanctions on the military regime.
On Sunday, the countries said they agreed to boost defense cooperation and hold a joint exercise of Japanese and Indonesian forces in the South China Sea, Kyodo reported.