Better Friends Than Ever
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Taufik Darusman Read : 1164 Date : Friday, November 10, 2017 - 09:36:32

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    The usual term for a Japanese ambassador assigned overseas is three years. “But I hope I can be here longer,” says Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Masafumi Ishii. “I feel comfortable here.” Masafumi, a career diplomat whose previous ambassadorial stint was in Belgium, sees a “good future” in relations between the two countries. “Relations between our governments and our peoples have always, and will continue to be, good not only because of history but also due to common interests and values,” he says. Forbes Indonesia recently discussed wide-ranging bilateral and regional issues with the ambassador at his Jakarta office.

    Forbes Indonesia: How would you describe the state of Japan-RI relations?

    Masafumi Ishii: I would say better than ever as we strongly share common interests and values. We will celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year. President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have met twice in the past year on the sidelines of international conferences, reflecting the closeness of our countries’ relations. On another level, I wish to point out that a growing number of Japanese have relocated themselves to Indonesia to retire in their old age. Also, many retired Japanese top business executives are employed by Indonesian companies who wish to tap into their experience.

    FI: What is your impression of Indonesia so far?

    MI: I have been here only four months but I have already become a huge fan of Indonesia, especially batik shirts. The best aspect of Indonesia is its people, who are nice, friendly and always helpful. I have already visited Palembang and will be going to Aceh soon. I am determined to visit as many provinces as possible to get a better understanding of the country and the people.

    FI: What can Indonesia do to attract more Japanese tourists?

    MI: About 500,000 Japanese tourists came here last year, a figure that is expected to rise this year. Events will surely boost the number of Japanese tourists visiting the country, as well as a better sense of security. Next year’s Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang will see a huge number of Japanese coming here. Conversely, over 200,000 Indonesians visited Japan last year, up by 35% over the year before—and there are now more halal restaurants in Japan.

    FI: Japan has always been a top investor here. How do you see future prospects?

    MI: Japan is the second largest foreign investor in Indonesia. Last year Japanese companies invested $5.4 billion, while in the first half of this year, the figure reached $2.8 billion. There are now over 1,500 Japanese companies operating here, creating employment for 5 million Indonesians. Our companies are confident in Indonesia, as many have established production bases here, but they also hope to see improvements in infrastructure and regulations in importing capital goods.

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