• Kyodo

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Tokyo said Monday it will provide ¥2.5 billion in grant aid to Indonesia for the development of fishery facilities on remote islands, at a time when China’s influence in the region is increasing.

The signing of a document regarding the aid was witnessed in Jakarta by Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, who discussed issues ranging from economic cooperation and maritime security to anti-terrorism measures.

The assistance, which is part of Tokyo’s efforts to promote its “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy,” will be used to build ports and fishery facilities by January 2020 on Indonesia’s six outer islands, according to a Japanese official.

The islands include Natuna on the southern edge of the South China Sea, where Chinese and other foreign fishing vessels continue to operate illegally.

The six islands do not have sufficient cooling and freezing facilities to store sea produce, and the aid is designed to improve their infrastructure and economic activity, according to Japan’s Foreign Ministry.

“We will increase our maritime cooperation. This is very meaningful for the strategies of both countries,” Kono said in a joint press statement with Retno.

With the two countries marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year, Kono also said Tokyo will help Jakarta develop infrastructure and improve its business environment.

Beyond aiming to draw more Japanese investment to Indonesia, he said the two countries are trying to expand the level of people-to-people exchanges to 1 million from both sides by further promoting tourism.

Another major topic for the two foreign ministers was North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un committed “to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” when he met U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to the strict implementation of the U.N. Security Council’s resolutions and to press North Korea for complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges,” Kono said.

“Indonesia and Japan are not just strategic partners. We are also two important strategic countries in the region,” Retno said. “Our partnership contributes not only to the prosperity to the people of Indonesia and Japan, but also to regional peace, stability and prosperity.”

Kono visited Indonesia as part of a weeklong South Asian tour. Ahead of the talks with Retno, Kono met with Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

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