Indonesia’s Prabowo Pledges Cooperation with Japan after Promising China Closer Ties

Indonesian Defense Minister and President-elect Prabowo Subianto and Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara (R) shake hands at the start of their talks at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, April 3 2024.

TOKYO (Reuters) – Indonesia’s president-elect Prabowo Subianto on Wednesday told Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida he wanted deeper security and economic cooperation just two days after telling Chinese President Xi Jinping he wished for close ties.

“We have built a cooperative relationship and going forward I would like to strengthen that,” Prabowo told Kishida at a meeting in Tokyo.

Prabowo, who has previously said the world’s fourth most populous nation was committed to a policy of non-alignment, visited Japan after traveling to China on Monday on his first foreign trip since his winning Indonesia’s presidential election in February.

Both Tokyo and Beijing are courting the Southeast Asian nations that ring the contested South China Sea, most of which China claims, to gain influence in the strategic region.

The current defense minister and former special forces commander will be sworn in by President Joko Widodo in October.

His election has raised concerns among human rights groups who point to abuses he is alleged to have committed during his time in the military. Prabowo, who was found by a military council to have kidnapped student activists in 1998, denies the accusations.

Prabowo also met Japan’s Minister of Defence Minoru Kihara in Tokyo.