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2014年7月26日 (土)

インドネシア 「庶民派」は成長維持できるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Will new Indonesian president Widodo be able to maintain economic growth?
インドネシア 「庶民派」は成長維持できるか

A leader with an unprecedented image as a common man has won the presidential election in Indonesia, a great regional power that plays a leading role in Southeast Asia.

Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo defeated retired Gen. Prabowo Subianto by a small margin to win his first term. He will officially assume the post in October.

Prabowo has said he will file a complaint regarding the election results, saying there was massive fraud during the poll. Both sides must work toward reconciliation to avoid turmoil among the people.

The election was held to elect the successor of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. After serving two terms of five years each, Yudhoyono will step down due to the constitutional provision that bans a third term in office. Attention was focused on the advisability of carrying on “elite politics,” in which the six presidents since the nation’s first, President Sukarno, have been people like military leaders or members of prominent political families.

Born into the family of a carpenter, Widodo extended his support base especially among the poor through repeated dialogue with residents and by calling for the eradication of corruption. As governor, Widodo displayed his leadership in promoting administrative reform while also using such populist policies as providing free medical and education services for low-income families.

Prabowo is a typical member of the power elite. He was married to former President Suharto’s daughter and served as head of the country’s special military force.

He promoted himself as a “strong leader” and maintained support among highly educated voters and members of the business community.

Democracy taking root

Widodo’s victory gives the impression that Indonesia is steadily climbing the ladder of democracy after going through long years of autocracy.

The biggest challenge for Widodo is whether he will be able to maintain national stability and growth amid signs of economic slowdown.

To attain further economic growth, it is imperative to improve and expand the country’s poor social infrastructure, such as roads, ports and power plants. It is also indispensable to rectify the income gap that has been widening on the flip side of the rapid progress in recent years.

How will fiscal resources be secured to carry out such policies?

Widodo has expressed his intention to take over the Yudhoyono administration’s avowed policy of strengthening controls on exports of unprocessed resources such as nickel. Such an introverted economic policy is also a cause of concern.

To lure more investments from Japan and elsewhere and use them for economic growth, it would be unwise to resort to irresponsible protectionism.

Indonesia is the only major maritime power in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It is also an important partner for Japan, as the two countries share fundamental values such as freedom of navigation and the rule of law.

Widodo’s diplomatic finesse is still unknown, but he has expressed his intention to attach importance to relations with Japan. Bolstering the bilateral strategic relationship would check China’s self-justified maritime advances and diplomacy vis-a-vis neighboring countries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 25, 2014)


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