Indonesia will sign a non-binding defense agreement with Japan next week when President Joko Widodo visits Tokyo for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Tokyo is forging closer security ties with Southeast Asian nations and builds a counter-balance to China. It has already bolstered partnerships with the Philippines and Vietnam, the two countries most at odds with China over a territorial row in the South China Sea
Japan itself is embroiled in a bitter dispute with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, further to the north. Japan is supplying maritime patrol boats to Vietnam and the Philippines and will also hold its first naval exercises with the Philippines in the coming months.
According to a report in VoA, Indonesian officials say the agreement will increase cooperation in military technology, training and peacekeeping operations; a significant boost above their current defense relationship, which is essentially limited to the exchange of military students. The new pact might also include exchanging intelligence information.
President Widodo is also to visit China immediately after Japan. Foreign Ministry spokesman Armanatha Nasir said the president will raise the contentious South China
Sea territorial dispute in both Tokyo and Beijing.
"Of course the issue of regional peace and stability will be discussed both in Japan and China, because the importance of ensuring that the region continues to benefit from stability and peace, because this is a major factor in the contribution for the region's economic development," Nasir said.