Japan, Indonesia to cooperate on islands near South China Sea

June 25 (UPI) — Japan and Indonesia are cooperating in the South China Sea as China has increased militarization on reclaimed islands in international waters.

During a visit that commemorated the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi agreed to a $23 million aid package, Kyodo News reported Monday.

The signed document includes agreements on economic cooperation, maritime security and anti-terrorism policy, according to the report.

Marsudi also agreed North Korea should work toward complete denuclearization and said Indonesia supports Japan’s goals of removing weapons of mass destruction.

“We reaffirmed our commitment to the strict implementation of the United Nations 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.

Maritime security was also discussed, and is part of Japan’s “free and open Indo-Pacific strategy.”

Japan will assist Indonesia in the construction of ports and fishery facilities on Indonesia’s outermost islands, including Natuna Island, located on the edge of the South China Sea.

China has claimed as much as 90 percent of the international waters as its own within what it calls the “nine-dash line” that extends more than 1,200 miles from the Chinese mainland.

The Jakarta Post reported Monday the two sides also agreed to conclude talks on the General Review of the Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which began in 2008.

Japan is Indonesia’s second-largest investor, and two-way trade reached $33 billion in 2016.