Minister Luhut Expects Japan to Develop Morotai Island
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has asked Japan to developed Morotai Island in Halmahera Islands, North Maluku. The ministry plans to build special area for Japanese elderly and a tourist destination to commemorate the World War II.
The ministry’s spokesman Atmadji Sumarkidjo said last week that the offer to develop Morotai had earlier been made when Luhut visited Tokyo in November. In December, Luhut held another bilateral meeting with Japan and formed Indonesia-Japan Maritime Forum.
According to Atmadjo, development of Morotai is part of a set of infrastructure projects which include Patimban Port, the Masela block, Jakarta-Surabaya bullet train, Natuna fishery market and Sabang Port. The entire project’s investment is worth US$45 billion.
He said that the government will not let Japan change Morotai Island’s name. Atmadji said that foreign investors may only give name to small nameless islands. Earlier, Luhut allowed Japan to name the island. “Japan wants Morotai. But I can confirm it’s not for sale. You can invest in the island; you can give it a name as you wish. But the island still belongs to Indonesia, not Japan,” he said.
Brahmantya Satyamurti Purwadi, Director General of Sea Space Management, Marine Affairs and Fishery, said that his team is exploring business opportunities with Japan in downstream fishery sector in Morotai. According to him, the government will allow foreign investors to manage Indonesia’s islands after they secure recommendation letter as well as the requirements of 30 percent green space and coastal border areas. He said that island names may only be proposed by the government through the United Nations assembly. The Maritime Ministry will team up with other ministries to draw up a list of nameless small islands.
Environmental expert at the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) Yonvitner has urged the government to limit investments in small islands based on zoning, investment worthiness criteria and socio-ecological aspects. Moreover, the regional governments and central government must maintain access control to investment areas. “State control must be maintained.”