TOKYO, Japan ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged good governance this week after receiving an honorary doctorate as part of a visit to major investor Japan, where he sealed the framework for a free trade deal.
Yudhoyono became Indonesia’s first directly elected leader in 2004 on a platform in part to combat corruption, although some critics have questioned whether he can root out the endemic problem.
Receiving an honorary doctorate at prestigious Keio University in Tokyo on Monday, Yudhoyono said he was dedicated to enforcement of the law and bringing economic equality.
“I would say good governance is the ideology of the 21st century,” Yudhoyono said.
“Without good governance, you will not succeed in achieving economic growth,” he said.
Keio University said it was honoring the contributions of Yudhoyono, whose government last year signed a peace treaty in Aceh aimed at ending three decades of separatist conflict in the tsunami-wracked province.
Yudhoyono “contributed to securing the political stability of the nation based on the platform built upon four pillars: a more peaceful, more just, more prosperous and more democratic Indonesia,” said Keio’s dean, Tomoyuki Kojima.
Yudhoyono held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, when he signed off on the framework for a free trade deal.
The deal allows Indonesia to send workers, particularly nurses, to Japan, which has tight restrictions on foreign labor. (See Business, page 15, for more details on the deal.)
“I believe that strong partnership between the two countries will contribute to peace and stability of the Asian region,” Yudhoyono said at dinner with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko later in the day, according to Jiji Press.
Abe sought Indonesia’s assistance in supplying natural gas, in pressuring North Korea to halt its nuclear program and also over Pyongyang’s past abductions of Japanese citizens.
Yudhoyono, who arrived late on Sunday, started his official visit on Monday with his wife Kristiani at a reception at the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo.
The Japanese emperor expressed sympathy to victims of natural disasters in Indonesia.
“It was another hard year this year as an earthquake and tsunami occurred,” Akihito told the president, according to a spokesman for the Imperial Household Agency.
“I was very worried,” Akihito said.
A May 27 earthquake in Java killed about 6,000 people and destroyed 300,000 homes. In July, an earthquake-triggered tsunami struck the south Java coast, killing more than 600 people.
Indonesia was also the nation worst hit by the earthquake-triggered Asian tsunami in December 2004, which killed some 168,000 people in Aceh.