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Japan PM in Indonesia to Affirm Ties   10/20 06:17


   JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga arrived 
Tuesday in Indonesia on the second leg of his first overseas trip as premier to 
underscore his government's aims of countering China in the region.

   Suga arrived from Vietnam in the middle of a four-day visit to the two 
Southeast Asia nations he said was key to pursuing the "free and open 
Indo-Pacific" vision of economic and security cooperation to counter China's 
growing power and its assertiveness in disputes with other governments over the 
South China Sea.

   Japan is pushing for members of the Association of the Southeast Asian 
Nations to cooperate in promoting its Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision. Tokyo 
wants to convey that its respect for a rules-based international system, in 
contrast to China, which refuses to recognize tribunal rulings against its vast 
sea claims, makes Japan the better partner for Southeast Asian countries.

   Suga is also expected to discuss coronavirus measures and Japan's possible 
support for the pandemic-hit Indonesian economy.

   Japan also hopes to deepen and strengthen its defense ties with Indonesia 
and promote a defense equipment and technology transfer agreement. It signed 
such a deal with Vietnam on Monday and has defense equipment transfer deals 
with a dozen countries, including the U.S., Britain, the Philippines and 
Malaysia, and is negotiating with Thailand.

   After a welcoming ceremony and tree-planting at the presidential palace in 
Bogor, just outside Jakarta, Suga is to then meet with Indonesian President 
Joko Widodo. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet people related to Japanese 
companies and lay a wreath at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery before returning to 

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