September 28, 2009
H.E. Yusuf Anwar, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you very much for your participation in the third Indonesia seminar today. JICA hosted the very first seminar in 1999. Since then it has become a tradition to hold this seminar every 5 years to strengthen the partnership between our two countries.
Today's third seminar is an opportunity to bring together key Indonesian and Japanese persons in both the political and economic spheres with the clear view to set up agenda for the incoming administration of President Yudhoyono. The results of today's seminar will be followed-up at the already scheduled meeting in Jakarta in November.
Reviewing the current situation, I think we can all agree that the economic and political policies of the first Yudhoyono administration proved successful. The general elections in April and the presidential election in July were reportedly conducted without serious problems. These are major achievements given the vast geographical and cultural diversity of the nation.
The situation in Aceh highlights the progress overcoming the serious problems of recent years. The region was plagued by long-term political and social problems and devastated by natural calamity. But despite those setbacks, the government has worked effectively to significantly improve the overall situation since I first visited the area in July, 2005.
As with virtually every country, Indonesia experienced a major downturn during last year's economic crisis. But thanks to the management of former central bank governor and vice president-elect Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, the country has shown signs of a major revival. During the first half of this year, the country experienced a 4.2% growth in GDP, the third fastest among the G20 group of nations. JICA was able to contribute to this turn-around through providing soft loans amounting to 200 million US dollars early this year.
Yet poverty and unemployment remain high. Infrastructure development and strengthening of the investment climate are still needed for continued economic growth.
New Engagement and New Partnership
Japan has enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration with Indonesia. 2008 marks the 50th year of the Indonesia-Japan partnership. Indonesia is the largest single recipient of Japanese official development assistance (ODA). In 2008, the Economic Partnership Agreement between the two governments went into effect as the first such bi-lateral agreement for Indonesia.
We have worked closely together on projects ranging from irrigation schemes for rice production, the Brantas River basin development, products of maternal and child health care handbooks, the strengthening of the national police, climate change and many others. Japanese private enterprises, particularly automobiles, motorcycles and electronic industries, have expanded. The two countries have enjoyed becoming important partners.
Throughout our partnership, JICA has worked to ensure both the strengthening of the 'ownership' and the improvement of the policy-implementation capacity of the Indonesian government.
This year marks the beginning of a new engagement for the two countries. Indonesia is a leading member of the G20 and is beginning to provide assistance to other developing countries following its own successful model. Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim nation, and Japan, a country with hard working population, also share increased responsibilities within the international community to promote global peace and security.
The emerging presence of Indonesia in the international arena is vital at a time when the world faces economic crisis, persistent poverty, global warming, food crisis and new pandemics.
The partnership between Indonesia and Japan must develop the next level of partnership - partnership working together on global issues and helping others.
I hope that this seminar will provide the opportunities to strengthen our new engagement in the international community, especially at a time when Indonesia begins a journey of climbing the ladder of prosperity.
By Sadako Ogata
President of JICA