Japan’s PM Suga arrives in Indonesia to affirm deeper ties

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrived yesterday in Indonesia on the second leg of his first overseas trip as premier to underscore his government’s aims of countering China in the region.

Suga arrived from Vietnam in the middle of a four-day visit to the two Southeast Asia nations he said was key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision of economic and security cooperation.

Japan is pushing for members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to cooperate in promoting its Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision.

Tokyo wants to convey that its respect for a rules-based international system.

Suga is also expected to discuss coronavirus measures and Japan’s possible support for the pandemic-hit Indonesian economy.

Japan also hopes to deepen and strengthen its defence ties with Indonesia and promote a defence equipment and technology transfer agreement. It signed such a deal with Vietnam on Monday and has defence equipment transfer deals with a dozen countries, including the United States (US), Britain, the Philippines and Malaysia, and is negotiating with Thailand.

After a welcoming ceremony and tree-planting at the presidential palace in Bogor, just outside Jakarta, Suga met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Today, he is scheduled to meet people related to Japanese companies and lay a wreath at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery before returning to Tokyo.