The foreign and defense ministers of Japan and Indonesia held a meeting on Tuesday in the 2 + 2 format and expressed commitment to working toward a free and open Indo-Pacific amid China’s increased activity in the South and East China seas, media reported.
According to the Kyodo news agency, during the meeting, the sides signed a deal enabling exports of Japanese-made defense equipment to Indonesia and expressed commitment to boosting security cooperation in the light of what they called China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the South and East China seas.
The ministers also discussed China’s recently enacted maritime security law that permits the country’s coast guard to destroy other countries’ structures and to use force when defending its maritime claims in disputed areas. Both sides said that China’s new law was inconsistent with international norms and violated the legitimate rights and interests of regional states.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi expressed Tokyo’s wish to increase the level of cooperation with Jakarta to a new level. The sides also reportedly agreed to step up multilateral drills that include Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and Indonesia’s military.
Over the past several years, China has increased its territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea region, overlapping with the interests of several nations. In particular, Beijing has been locked up in a dispute with Tokyo over a string of uninhabited but resource-rich islets, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China.
In 2020, Japan registered 24 instances of Chinese ships ‘entering its sea border and 333 cases of Chinese ships’ entrance into Japan’s contiguous zone.
Indonesia, meanwhile, expressed concern over the activity of Chinese fishing boats, accompanied by coast guard vessels, in its exclusive economic zone in the waters north of the Natuna Islands.