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Japan to join ‘Garuda Shield’ military drills for first time

Japanese defense forces will participate for the first time in military exercises in Indonesia next month alongside the United States and Australia, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Japan’s involvement comes as Washington and its regional allies step up efforts to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

The meeting between Kishida and Jokowi, as he is popularly known, came a day after the Indonesian president made a rare visit to China for a summit with President Xi Jinping in which the two pledged to scale up trade and expand cooperation in areas such as agriculture and food security, Reuters reported.

“Indonesia shares fundamental values with us as well as strategic goals, it is a strategic partner,” Kishida told a news conference after the two met.

He said Japan’s Self-Defence Forces will take part in the Garuda Shield joint military exercises to be held in Indonesia from Aug 1 with the United States, and Australia, and will be the first time that Japan has participated.

The annual exercises, typically between Indonesia and the United States, will be “significantly larger in scope and scale” than in previous years, the United States has said.

Jokowi ememphasized ractical aspects of bilateral ties and mentioned that the two nations had agreed to changes in an Indonesia-Japan economic partnership agreement to be signed later this year.

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