Indonesia's Foreign Ministry presents three years of overseas achievements

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - In an exhibition of its achievements over the past three years, the Foreign Ministry is providing diplomatic missions from other countries an opportunity to promote their cultures to the Indonesian public — and for foreign and domestic diplomats to demonstrate their musical talents.

The exhibition, in which all the directorates general of the ministry participated, was opened by Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi on Monday and will last until Friday.

On Wednesday, Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Masafumi Ishii sang a 1950s Japanese song by Mayumi Itsuwa called “Kokoro No Tomo” (Friend in my Heart), which has long been popular in Indonesia. He was accompanied by several high-ranking diplomats in the ministry who form the house musical group called the Diplomat Band.

The ambassador said 2018 would be a great year for Indonesia and Japan. Since Joko “Jokowi” Widodo became president, he said, the Foreign Ministry has worked to enrich the diplomatic relations of the countries. “It’s symbolized by the fact that President Jokowi and Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe have met seven times in the last three years,” he said.

The Japanese embassy also brought musician Haruka Nakagawa to the exhibition. She is a former member of the platoon-sized girl band JKT48 and was recently named a “friendship ambassador” for the upcoming 60th anniversary of Indonesian-Japanese diplomatic relations by the Japanese Embassy.

The 25-year-old Tokyo-born celebrity became the center of the attention for many visitors to the exhibition. She said as a brand ambassador she was to appeal to the younger generation to boost diplomatic ties. “I think 60 years is a long time and it had been established by our parents, but now it’s our generation’s turn,” she said.

The exhibition not only presented representatives from Japan, but also from other countries of East Asia, including South Korea and China, which were invited by the Directorate General of the Asia-Pacific and African Affairs for an event called the East Asia Hour. On Thursday the exhibition will have a Pacific Hour and a Central Asia hour. Meanwhile, on Friday there will be a Southeast Asia Hour and an Asia-Pacific and African closing event.

Another stand of the Directorate General of Information and Public Diplomacy will feature several photobooths and legal quizzes.

Since morning, visitors tried on traditional Korean hanbok dresses and took pictures in the booths, as the political attaché from the Chinese Embassy, Yin Siyan, quizzed Indonesian students about Chinese’s diplomatic history with Indonesia.

A student from Sriwijaya University in South Sumatra, Aji Philanov, won a panda doll for correctly giving the formal name of China.

He said he went to the exhibition because he saw a poster advertising it in his class WhatsApp group. “The event is fun but maybe they can do seminars so the event can be more informative,” he said.

In the afternoon, the Asia-Pacific and African Affairs booth also gave free Ethiopian coffee to the visitors, which resulted in a long line in front of the ministry’s lobby.

Daniel Tumpal Simandjuntak, the ministry’s director for African affairs, said educating the public about Africa was one of the main challenges he faced in his post.

He said one of the ministry’s main diplomatic programs was to Africa and one of its focuses was to encourage investment in Africa’s strategic infrastructure industries. Meanwhile, he said that Indonesia’s perspective about the continent was that it was a poor and barren region.

“We have to prove that the negative perspective is not 100 percent true because there is good news from Indonesian-African cooperation,” he said.

He said one way to educate the public was to explain where coffee came from, as it was originally from Africa even though currently Indonesia is one of the biggest coffee exporters in the world.

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