Mori supports Indonesia reforms

Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori assured visiting Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid on Sunday that the recent change in Japan’s premiership has not altered the nation’s policy of supporting Indonesia’s reform efforts.

Mori told Wahid in a meeting at the premier’s official residence that Japan will continue to support Indonesia’s economic reconstruction and its efforts to resolve problems over separatist activities in Aceh and religious strife in the Maluku Islands, a Japanese government official said.

After the meeting, the two leaders announced members of a new panel of Japanese and Indonesian experts to advise the two leaders on a wide range of issues, including foreign policy and international finance.

Nobuo Matsunaga, a Foreign Ministry adviser and former ambassador to the United States, will head the Japanese team of experts, while Taufik Abdullah, a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, will head the Indonesian team, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The Japan Indonesia Advisory Network, consisting of 10 experts, plans to hold meetings twice a year. Their first meeting will be in Jakarta on July 3, the statement said.

Wahid and former Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi agreed to launch the panel when they met last November. Mori was sworn in as prime minister on April 5 to replace Obuchi, who remains in a coma after suffering a stroke.

In the meeting, Mori said Japan will continue to support Indonesia’s reform efforts by, for example, holding the next meeting of major aid donors in Japan in the fall.

In a meeting in February, the Consultative Group on Indonesia pledged up to $4.7 billion in new aid to help fund Indonesia’s projected budget deficit. Of the pledges, Japan committed the most at $1.56 billion.

Mori also urged Indonesia to implement a reform program under the International Monetary Fund. Wahid promised to do so, saying it is a step that is necessary for his country to gain the confidence of the international community.

Mori also reiterated Japan’s position of seeking “the integrity of Indonesia” in respect to separatist activities in Aceh and the sectarian strife in the Maluku Islands. He also urged Wahid to exert strong leadership in resolving problems over East Timor.

Wahid said he plans to meet East Timor independence leader Xanana Gusmao for talks on his way to or from his planned visit to Australia, the Japanese official said.

Wahid visited Japan on his way back from a 10-day trip to South Africa, Mexico and Cuba.