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Indonesia’s presidents have long hoped that spinning out the bureaucratic capital would jump-start the country’s struggling east: Jakarta generates 17% of the country's GDP. (Photo by Kosaku Mimura)
The Big Story

Indonesia chases a game-changer: moving the capital

Jokowi aims to do what predecessors couldn't as Jakarta overflows

SHOTARO TANI and ISMI DAMAYANTI, Nikkei staff writers | Indonesia

JAKARTA -- Jakarta, Indonesia's sprawling capital city, is shorthand in Southeast Asia for the endemic challenges of emerging-market megacities -- gridlock, pollution and a chaotic approach to planning, where iron-roofed informal communities are sited next to gleaming luxury malls.

During his rapid rise from a provincial businessman to the presidency of Indonesia, Joko Widodo spent two years running the city as its governor, winning the 2012 gubernatorial election on promises to tackle its enduring problems of flooding, housing and traffic. His time running the capital gave him a national platform and helped to establish a reputation as the rising star of Indonesian politics, ultimately earning him a shot at the presidency.

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