Jakarta (ANTARA) - During an International Corner interview in May, Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia, Kenji Kanasugi, told ANTARA: “We can create a mutually win-win situation into the future based on the common understanding that we need each other.”

Japan and Indonesia opened diplomatic relations in April 1958, and since then, they have improved cooperation, especially in the economic and human resource sectors.

According to the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry, both countries have reached a strategic partnership level, which has resulted in the inking and implementation of several MoUs (memorandums of understanding) or agreements.

For instance, the IJEPA (Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership agreement) was signed in 2007, and one of its benefits was to increase the delivery of the Indonesian workforce to Japan.

Data from the Indonesian Migrant Workers Protection Agency (BP2MI) showed that between January and May 2022, at least 2,360 Indonesian migrant workers (PMI) were placed in Japan.

Japan was the 4th most popular destination for Indonesian migrant placements, after Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.

On June 22, the Ministry of Manpower sent 287 Indonesian migrant workers (PMI) to Japan under a government-to-government (G-to-G) placement program as the 15th batch under the Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (IJEPA).

And though they are facing contrasting human resource challenges, it seems that Indonesia and Japan still need each other: Indonesia will experience the peak of demographic bonus by 2030, while Japan's population is declining and aging.

"There are many ways to help each other; Indonesia's population is growing by 3 million per year, while Japan's population is declining by 500 thousand per year. Our working population is shrinking," Ambassador Kanasugi said.

Japan needs more workers and young people, and Indonesia has them, but this workforce needs qualified training, as Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah emphasized at the 2021 Vocational Award Training.

With its technological advances, educational scholarships, and vocational trainings, Japan can help Indonesia ensure it does not miss its demographic bonus moment.

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One of the programs that the Japanese government is offering to attract global talent to visit, study, or work in Japan is the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS).

In the program that has been held almost every year since 2007, participants are provided a basic knowledge of Japan and its history, society, and current issues. The program’s activities include visiting a Japanese household, tourist attractions, and joining a seminar with experts.

The program is aimed at creating mutual understanding and building friendship and cooperation between Japan and the Asia-Pacific region.

The participants of JENESYS 2022, held online from March 9–15, were divided into several different groups, including students and young journalists, among others.

Young journalists were invited by panels to dive deeper into the challenges that Japan faces as a country, such as earthquake threats and ways to report incidents quickly and accurately but also with a sense of empathy.

Through these JENESYS activities, it was hoped that the participants would recount stories and experiences of joining the program, thus contributing to Japan's economic and educational diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Helping each other

According to Nippon.com, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications estimated that as of October 1, 2021, the total population of Japan was 125.5 million, down 0.51-percent from the previous year, making 2021 the eleventh consecutive year that the nation’s population declined.

In contrast, according to the Indonesian Home Ministry, Indonesia’s population reached 273.8 million as of December 2021, an increase of 2.5 million from the previous year, reflecting an annual growth rate of around 1 percent.

Currently, Indonesia is also entering a demographic bonus period, where the number of people in the productive age group is greater than the number of people in the non-productive age group, and the peak is expected to occur in 2030.

Therefore, it is crucial to not waste the potential of the enormous human resources that the country has.

According to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), Indonesia only has two years to expedite human resource development to capitalize on the demographic bonus in the period from 2030 to 2035.

"Do we dare to change during these two years? Otherwise, we will not be able to optimize the demographic bonus in 2030–2035. We will retard if we do not immediately change," he remarked at an academic event at a university in Central Java, on March 11.

Meanwhile, to tackle its declining population, Japan has been inviting seniors back to work, empowering women, and welcoming foreign workers to work in the country, Ambassador Kanasugi said.

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To accelerate the arrival of foreign workers to Japan, the Japanese government is promoting the Specified Skilled Worker status residence program, which offers foreign workers an opportunity to work in 14 industrial sectors or categories such as care services, construction, accommodation industry, and so on.

Meanwhile, Japanese investment has resulted in the opening of thousands of companies that need domestic workers in Indonesia.

"There are about two thousand Japanese companies operating in Indonesia; (the companies) have in-house training for Indonesian workers," Kanasugi informed.

This show that the cooperation between the two countries remains attractive, as new collaborations continue to be discussed and explored.

On June 29, Japanese State Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), Ken'ichi Hosoda, in a meeting with Indonesian Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita in Tokyo, lauded the Indonesian government for its cooperation and support, saying collaboration between Indonesia and Japan has benefited both parties so far, thus, it should be improved.

Therefore, potential collaborations that range from education and industry to economy can help both Japan and Indonesia to realize their own goals.

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Editor: Suharto
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