Bridges: How would you describe the Japan-Indonesia relationship?
Yasui: Indonesia and Japan are closely connected with each other in various aspects. We have a huge scale of trade and accumulated investment in Indonesia. Japan has imported many resources critical for our economy and lives from Indonesia and expanded business activities through continuous investment for decades.
Many Japanese people live in Indonesia and visit Bali and other tourism resorts while more and more Indonesia people are visiting Japan recently (before COVID-19). Indonesia is located in a critical place between North Pacific, Indian Ocean and Oceania and has largest population in the South East Asian Region. We are recognizing that Indonesia is one of most important countries for Japan. Many Indonesia people have good feeling with Japan, and so do Japanese people. As a whole, two countries are in a very good relation in views of economy, diplomatic and people’s relation.
This good and friendly relation has not changed for a long period. In the past, the relation between two countries was that of an aid donor and a recipient when Indonesia was poor countries. Now, Indonesia is a middle income country as a result of growth of a long period. The bilateral relation is changing to the partnership where the two countries are jointly cooperating for challenges the international society is commonly facing, which will further strengthen the ties of the two countries.
What is JICA doing to strengthen ties between Japan and Indonesia?
JICA has provided assistances to infrastructure development such as power, transportation, disaster risk reduction and human resource development such as health and education, which is contributing to economic and social development of Indonesia and strengthening the bilateral ties. Patimban Port Project, new international port development in Jakarta Metropolitan Area, has completed its construction under Japanese advanced construction technologies and commenced its car terminal operations just 4 years after Loan signing by Indonesian government and JICA. Jakarta MRT is also one of JICA’s prominent assistances.
We are supporting the facilities of MRT as the first subway system in Indonesia. Besides infrastructure development, we have dispatched many experts of Japanese Railway companies to Jakarta to give proposals and advices to Indonesian government agencies for establishment of new entity for operating MRT as well as technical support for safety and adequate MRT operation.
It is strengthening the person to person friendship and creating relations of trust. The MRT is expected to have a big impact on transportation and people’s movement in Jakarta, bringing about life style transformation. In the midst of COVID-19, we provided thermometers, PCR equipment and oxygen concentrators emergently as well as assisted vaccine cold supply chain and telemedicine. Medical faculty and hospital of University of Indonesia we once assisted in the past has played vital roles for the response to COVID-19 by their own.
Now, we are putting more emphasis on measures against climate change including energy transition, which is getting more and more important as a common crisis for the international community. We would like also to strengthen activities in the areas connecting people of the two countries and those involving various entities, including private companies and universities. Not limited to these areas, we would like to continue sincerely hearing request and opinions of Indonesian people for better cooperation which are really required.