Around Asia: Japan is big in Indonesia

Japan’s expansion into neighboring economies in Southeast Asia has stirred a particular kind of interest for Japanese culture in Indonesia.

Japanese firms have been flooding into Southeast Asia’s top economy amid an economic boom driven by the country’s emerging middle class.

Now, Indonesians are taking more than their fair share of Japanese culture through entertainment, fashion and cuisine.

More of the Indonesia’s young population – more than 40% are estimated to be 24 or older – have taken interest in Japanese language and entertainment, such as sumo wrestling.

Indonesian youths also see Japan as a hot employment opportunity and immerse themselves in Japanese culture as much as possible.

Last year, more than 870,000 people enrolled in Japanese language classes, up from 700,000 in 2009, the Jakarta branch of the Japan Foundation said.

Japanese restaurants and sushi bars are found almost in every corner of major cities.

Indonesians also prefer Japanese products such as Sony and Panasonic.

Japanese direct investment in Indonesia ballooned to $2.5 billion last year from $712.6 million in 2010, according to the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board.

“Five years ago, most Indonesian people couldn’t buy Japanese goods, but now they have enough income to buy high-quality Japanese products,” said Kenichi Tomiyoshi, chief of the Japan External Trade Organization’s Indonesian operations.

By: Maesie Bertumen

Image: zsoolt/Flickr

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