JAKARTA – Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida held talks Tuesday with Indonesian President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and discussed boosting security and economic ties.
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Jokowi, who was elected July 9, said they mainly covered maritime security, Japanese investment in infrastructure and Indonesia’s controversial law on coal and mineral resources.
Jokowi said Japan wants to strengthen its cooperation with Indonesia in terms of maritime security and promoting observance of related international rules and laws.
He said he told Kishida that he expects more investment from Japan but wants more of it focused on infrastructure development, such as construction of deep seaports.
“There must be deep seaports on all islands,” he said.
Jokowi said Kishida also raised the issue of Indonesia’s ban on the export of raw ores such as nickel and bauxite, which went into effect Jan. 12 under a law that stipulates that raw ores must be processed at smelters in Indonesia before being exported.
“He wants some more discussions regarding this issue, but I told him that I (will) stick to our law and our constitution mandates that our natural resources shall be used for the people’s welfare,” Jokowi said.
Mandated by the 2009 Mining Law, the export ban is aimed at adding value to mineral exports and developing the downstream industry by forcing local processing.
Japan, which is home to some of the world’s biggest stainless steel producers, relies extensively on Indonesian nickel, which accounts for 44 percent of its total needs. Although Japanese smelters can survive off their stockpiles, their reserves may not last long.
For that reason, Japan wants Indonesia to exclude it from the ban. It is also considering bringing the case to the World Trade Organization if consultations with Indonesia over the ban fail to reach a settlement.
In an interview Monday, Jokowi promised to hold talks with all stakeholders regarding the issue, but cautioned against high expectations, saying the issue is not one that can be easily resolved to every party’s satisfaction.
Jokowi also told reporters Kishida handed him a letter from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inviting him to visit Japan soon after he takes office, which is expected to happen in October.
Kishida, who arrived in Jakarta late Monday for a two-day visit, was also scheduled to hold talks Tuesday with his Indonesian counterpart, Marty Natalegawa.