President Joko Widodo, second right, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, second left, hold a meeting at the Bogor Palace on Oct. 20, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of Presidential Press Bureau)

Japan to Loan $473m for Covid-19 Mitigation in Indonesia

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA

OCTOBER 20, 2020

Bogor. Japan has agreed on a 50 billion yen (around $473 million) loan for Covid-19 mitigation in Indonesia during a meeting between visiting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at the Bogor Palace, West Java, on Tuesday.

"By considering the Covid-19 impact towards Indonesia's economy, Japan has decided on funding as fiscal aid of 50 billion yen to upscale their disaster mitigation capacity," Suga said at the press conference shortly after the meeting.

Japan will also support Indonesia’s health research institutes by providing medical equipment and other supplies.
 
At the summit, both leaders agreed on a travel corridor arrangement which would allow essential business trips as soon as possible amid the pandemic under the Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (IJEPA) scheme. This relaxation will apply for caregivers and nurses, Suga said.

Further details on the travel bubble will be discussed by the respective foreign affairs ministers. Both Jokowi and Suga expect the negotiation to be completed within a month.

According to Jokowi, Japan has been supportive of Indonesia in Covid-19 mitigation since the pandemic dawned, starting with the evacuation of 69 crew members from the Diamond Princess cruise ship back in Yokohama in March to the signing of a memorandum of understanding on health cooperation on Monday.

The president also appreciated how Japan has been helping Asean countries curb the pandemic.

“Indonesia truly appreciates Japan’s commitment and contribution for the establishment of the Asean Covid-19 response fund," Jokowi said.

"We also encourage Japan to strengthen the health management in the region to face an emerging pandemic in the future, including the establishment of the Asean Center for Public Health Emergency and Emerging Disease,” he added.

Factory Relocation
Bolstering bilateral economic ties was also included in the summit's main agenda.

Jokowi named Japan as one of the country's strategic economic partners, especially with Japanese companies seeking to relocate to Indonesia.

"I welcome the relocation and investment of Japanese companies to Indonesia such as Denso, Panasonic, Sagami, Mitsubishi Chemical, and Toyota," Jokowi said.

At the meeting, the president discussed the issues on import licenses for agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Indonesia. He hoped Japan could join the Indonesia sovereign wealth fund, an entity aimed to attract investments which will be established under the Job Creation Bill.

Meanwhile, Suga also said Japan agreed to foster cooperation in infrastructure projects, including the mass rapid transit, Jakarta-Surabaya rail project, the Patimban Port, and the development in the outer islands. 

North Korea Issue
At the meeting, Suga conveyed Japan's interest in stronger defense ties to maintain peace and stability as international tension heightens. 

Because of this, both countries will hold a 2+2 meeting soon while speeding up the talks on the transfer of defense technology and equipment as well as the law enforcement in the waters, Suga said. 

“Regarding the regional issues including North Korea and South China Sea, we have agreed that Japan and Indonesia will work together closely. I also ask for Indonesia’s cooperation for the North Korean abduction of Japanese nationals to be quickly resolved,” he added.

In addition, the prime minister also showed his support to the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific which promotes inclusiveness in the region. 

"Japan fully supports the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific that is pioneered by Indonesia to be adopted. [It also has] numerous fundamental similarities with the vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific," Suga said. 

The meeting marked Suga’s first overseas trip after taking office in September.
 

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