TOKYO, — Japanese defence forces and the United States and Australia will participate in a military exercise in Indonesia for the first time next month, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday after talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
Japan’s involvement comes as Washington and its regional allies step up efforts to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.
The meeting between Kishida and Jokowi, as he is popularly known, came a day after the Indonesian president visited China for a summit with President Xi Jinping. Both resolved to increase trade and expand agriculture and food security cooperation.
“Indonesia shares fundamental values and strategic goals with us; it is a strategic partner,” Kishida told a news conference after the two met.
He said Japan’s self-defence forces and the United States, Australia and others will participate in the Garuda Shield joint military exercise to be held in Indonesia from August 1. This will be the first time that Japan has participated.
The United States has said that the annual exercise, usually between Indonesia and the United States, will be “significantly larger in area and scale” than in previous years.
Japan also would loan the Indonesian government 43.6 billion yen ($318 million) for infrastructure projects and disaster prevention, Kishida said, along with cooperating in areas including energy.
In his remarks, Jokowi emphasised practical aspects of bilateral ties and mentioned that the two nations had agreed to changes in an Indonesia-Japan economic partnership agreement to be signed later this year, although he did not specify details.
Renegotiations on the agreement, concluded in 2007, aim to expand access to Japanese markets and reduce tariffs. “I ask Japan to support the reduction of tariffs on some products such as tuna, bananas, pineapple, and market access to mango products,” Jokowi said.
Indonesia’s imports from Japan totalled $9.2 billion in 2020, while its exports to Japan stood at $14.5 billion, according to IMF data compiled by Refinitiv.
Indonesia’s economics ministry said on Wednesday that Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp plans to invest 27.1 trillion rupiahs ($1.8 billion) in Indonesia in the next five years to produce electric vehicles