JAKARTA, Indonesia — Leaders of Southeast Asia's pro-Western alliance hope the U.S.-Japanese trade dispute will generate unexpected benefits in the form of increased aid to developing nations, according to Indonesian Foreign Minister Mochtar Kusumaatmadja.
Mochtar said the trade dispute could have "disastrous results for the rest of the world," but that Japan is likely to respond to American pressure to stimulate its domestic economy and recycle its massive trade surpluses.
"My guess is that Japan, for historical reasons, will not be able or willing to do more on arms buildup, so the alternative is that they shoulder a bigger share in helping developing countries," he said.
Mochtar, speaking to reporters after a meeting with visiting Singapore Foreign Minister Suppiah Dhanabalan, said they discussed at length "how ASEAN (Assn. of South East Asian Nations) can take advantage of this opportunity." The ASEAN countries are Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei.
He hinted that Japanese economic assistance would be a major topic of discussion at the ASEAN heads of states meeting in Manila in December.