Last month, Japan and Indonesia signed a defense pact that covers capacity building, peacekeeping and equipment development. In an email interview, Zachary Abuza, principal of Southeast Asia Analytics, discussed Japan-Indonesia relations.
WPR: What is the nature of the Japan-Indonesia bilateral relationship, and what is the extent of political, economic and defense ties?
Zachary Abuza: Indonesia and Japan have close economic ties, with bilateral trade now amounting to over $50 billion a year. Japan is a major investor in Indonesia’s manufacturing sector, and it is the single largest provider of development assistance—more than $40 billion since 1960. Indonesia is also seeking significant Japanese investment in its energy sector, which is dangerously underdeveloped. Political ties have been stable, if not exceptional, but they are growing. Unlike the United States, Japan has never made Indonesia’s human rights record a diplomatic issue. Indonesia has always been first among equals within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and has worked to deepen Japanese relations in the region.