On December 21st Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan agreed to cooperate with Japan, establishing the Indonesia-Japan Maritime Forum (IJMF). The two countries agreed to collaborate in the field of maritime security, maritime economy, maritime infrastructure, as well as maritime education and training.
Although the agreement signifies strategic bilateral security cooperation between Indonesia and Japan in terms of smuggling prevention, The Diplomat said that it appeared to neglect a growing transnational maritime threat in Southeast Asia – that of maritime piracy, which has mostly occurred in Indonesian waters.
Private intelligence agency Dryad reported that in Southeast Asia piracy has increased by 22% since 2014. From 1995 to 2013, Southeast Asia was responsible for 40% of the total piracy in the world.
However, The Diplomat said that the unwillingness of the head of the Indonesian Maritime Security Board, Vice-Admiral Arie Soedewo, to recognize maritime piracy as a real threat in Indonesian waters, or even more broadly in Southeast Asia, was reflected in the recent deal with Japan.
A lack of maritime security along the shipping lanes and ports in Indonesia would be a determinant factor for shipping companies weighing whether to involve Indonesia as a transit point. In addition, vulnerability to piracy may threaten the image of Indonesia as a maritime nation. If Indonesia is able to open up to receiving others’ contributions in the maritime industry sector, Indonesia will also need to respond to and prevent current and future maritime security challenges, The Diplomat claimed.