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Indonesia to reach defense equipment deal with Japan

Indonesia to reach defense equipment deal with Japan Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (center) poses with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (left) and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto during a courtesy call at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on March 30, 2021. (AFP/Eugene Hoshiko)
News Desk
Tokyo, Japan   ●   Tue, March 30, 2021 2021-03-30 12:55 45 0920e6703081f028872405a5263200ef 2 World Japan,Indonesia,defense,Prabowo-Subianto,Suga,Retno-Marsudi Free

Japan and Indonesia are expected to agree Tuesday on a deal enabling exports of Japanese-made defense equipment to the Southeast Asian country, a government official said, as the two countries try to boost cooperation amid China's rising assertiveness in regional waters.

The accord on the transfer of defense equipment and technology is set to be agreed in principle when foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Indonesia meet in Tokyo in the late afternoon.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he hopes the envisaged pact will be the "foundation of further security cooperation between the two countries," when he met Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto ahead of the so-called two-plus-two meeting between the four ministers.

"To realize the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, I'd like to advance specific cooperation," Suga also told the Indonesian ministers at his office.

In the talks, they also agreed to coordinate closely regarding the crisis in Myanmar where the military seized power in a coup on Feb. 1, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Suga "strongly condemned" the continued use of violence by Myanmar's security forces against peaceful protestors, resulting in massive casualties and injuries, the ministry said.

The death toll from the military's violent campaign to quell the unrest in Myanmar has reached at least 510, according to a rights group monitoring the situation.

Suga traveled to Vietnam and Indonesia last October for his first overseas trip since taking office. At the time, he agreed with Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to step up negotiations toward the agreement.

Japan has signed similar accords with Britain, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Philippines and the United States.

At the two-plus-two talks, the second of their kind between the two countries since 2015, the Indonesian ministers and Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi are likely to discuss ways to deal with China's increasing maritime activities in the South and East China seas.

Japan is troubled by Chinese coast guard ships' repeated intrusions into Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

China claims the uninhabited group of islets, calling them Diaoyu.

Indonesia, meanwhile, faces tensions in its exclusive economic zone in the waters north of the Natuna Islands with China, where Chinese fishing boats, accompanied by Chinese coast guard vessels are claimed to be engaged in illegal fishing.

The EEZ overlaps with China's self-proclaimed "nine-dash" line that marks its expansive claims in the South China Sea, where it has disputes with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

In the wake of North Korea's launch Thursday of two ballistic missiles, the Japanese and Indonesian ministers are also likely to agree on the importance of strictly implementing UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from testing ballistic missile and nuclear technologies, according to officials.