JAKARTA: Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo on Friday (Jan 10) asked Japan to step up investment in fisheries and energy in some of its South China Sea islands following a stand-off with foreign countries in waters that China claims in the area.
Widodo made the request for Japan to consider economic opportunities in the Natuna islands during a visit to Jakarta by Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, the president’s office said in a statement.
Widodo visited Natuna on Wednesday to assert Indonesia’s sovereignty over the cluster of islands and the waters around them, after reports Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels had entered Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone several times since last month.
The line loops far south from China and includes most of the South China Sea, but it is a claim that is not recognised internationally. Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have rival claims in the South China Sea.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters Widodo had asked Japan to invest in fisheries, energy and tourism in Natuna.
“We also agreed to strengthen coastguard coordination,” he said.
Indonesia had stepped up air and sea patrols in the area and summoned China‘s ambassador over the appearance of the ships. An Indonesian military spokesman said the vessels left the area after Widodo’s trip.
“We shared a serious concern regarding efforts to change with force the status quo unilaterally and we confirmed continuing close collaboration,” he said.