Japan, Indonesia pledge tighter military cooperation

TOKYO: Japan and Indonesia’s ministers of defence and foreign affairs pledged on Tuesday (Mar 30) to tighten their military ties to face an assertive China as the two countries hold talks in Tokyo.

“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.

China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas have become a priority issue in an increasingly testy Sino-US relationship and are an important security concern for Japan.

The meetings follow a visit to the region by US 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.

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Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has said she has also been in close contact with Motegi to discuss the Myanmar situation and COVID-19 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 Feb 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.