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EDITORIAL | Long Friendship with Indonesia Honored By Japan Emperor's Visit

In Indonesia, Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako meet with people who have contributed to strengthening the bilateral ties between the two countries.



Emperor Naruhito and President Joko Widodo walk together in a welcome ceremony at the Bogor Palace in Indonesia. On June 19. (© Sankei by Kengo Matsumoto)

On June 17 Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako began a seven-day state visit to Indonesia

Although the Emperor attended the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London last September, this is his first official goodwill visit abroad since he ascended the throne in 2019.

Hopefully, the visit of the royal couple is serving to increase the knowledge of Japanese about the history of relations between our two countries. In addition, it is deepening our bilateral friendship during the Reiwa era

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress speak to children gathered at a hotel in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, on June 17 (©Kyodo)

Appreciating the Friendship of Indonesia

During their week in Indonesia, the Emperor and Empress are meeting with President Joko Widodo. Moreover, they are interacting with people from various fields who have contributed to the friendship between the two countries.

When asked about the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War II, the Emperor expressed that it was a difficult period in history. He also observed, "I believe it is important not to forget those who died while deepening our understanding of past history and nurturing a love of peace in our hearts."

The Showa era turned into the Heisei era and now into the present Reiwa era. Meanwhile, the significance of passing on historical memory has continued to increase. 

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan offer flowers to the memorial monument at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta on June 20. (© Sankei by Kengo Matsumoto)

Japan's Colonial Rule

During the war, Japan ousted the Dutch colonial administration from Indonesia. It was replaced with rule by the Japanese imperial military. Japanese administrators established a teacher training school and other facilities. 

They promoted education and created a volunteer force called the Pembela Tanah Air (PETA) meaning "Defenders of the Homeland." Through PETA, they gave many young Indonesians military training. 

These young Indonesians formed the core of the freedom fighters during Indonesia's war of independence. That took place when the Dutch tried to reimpose their colonial rule after the war.

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan are visiting Dharma Persada University and interacting with people who have studied in Japan on June 20, in Jakarta, Indonesia. (© Sankei by Kengo Matsumoto)

Japan's Place in Indonesia's Independence

The date inscribed on the Proclamation of Indonesia Independence kept at the National Monument of Indonesia (MONAS) in Merdeka Square in Jakarta is "17/8/15." Those numbers mean August 17 of Year 5. 

Here, Year 5 actually stands for the 2605th year of the Imperial Era, according to the prewar calendar system. It begins with the mythical founding of the Japanese empire by Emperor Jimmu in 660 BC. On a calendar of today's era, this date is the equivalent of 1945. 

Sukarno (Soekarno) was one of the leaders of the independence movement and the first president of the Indonesian Republic. He and others involved in the drafting of the proclamation voluntarily inserted this language two days after Japan had announced its surrender to the Allied Powers. Later, he and other independence leaders fought against the Dutch military, which was determined to reassert colonial rule. 


During his visit, the Emperor is visiting and offering flowers at the Kalibata Main Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta. Soldiers who died in the War of Independence are buried in this cemetery. 

Some Japanese soldiers stayed in Indonesia after Japan's surrender and participated in the War of Independence. And they are also among the cemetery's honored dead. There are plans for their descendants to meet the Emperor.

Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress are riding through the Bogor Botanical Gardens with Indonesian President Joko and his wife. On June 19, in Bogor, Indonesia (© Sankei by Kengo Matsumoto)

Indonesia's Regional Influence

Indonesia is steadily further increasing its profile as a regional power. In recent years, bilateral relations with Japan have been tense at times. Among other reasons, that is because of friction over a planned high-speed rail project that eventually went to China. It is imperative that we quickly reestablish friendly and cooperative relations. 

Visits by the Emperor to foreign countries are highly significant because they strengthen ties between Japan and those countries. We, along with the Japanese people as a whole, wish His Majesty and Her Majesty a splendid visit to Indonesia.


(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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