Nuclear issues unresolved in India-Japan partnership

14:50, October 28, 2010      

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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently paid a three-day official visit to Japan. The visit is considered a way for India to positively expand its influence in Asia.

Indian media have spoken highly of the two countries' consensus on formally signing a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement in 2010 and believe that it will inject new vitality into India's economic development and promote the overall cooperation of the two parties in nuclear energy, marine navigation security, military cooperation as well as technological and cultural exchanges.

Relations between India and Japan have continued to develop and move forward in the 21st century. In 2000, the two countries established a global partnership and in 2004, India became Japan's largest overseas development aid recipient. In December 2006, the two countries announced that they would establish a strategic global partnership and in December 2009, they issued a joint statement on the "India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership in the New Period."

In terms of the strategic security field, Japan supports India’s participation in the East Asia Summit. On the issue of choosing a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Japan, India and two other countries formed a group. The two countries have also common interests in maintaining marine security.

The "Action Plan to Deepen Security Cooperation" covered the extensive cooperation between the two countries in defense and security fields much more in depth, and an annual exchange mechanism between the two countries' senior officials from diplomatic and national defense services was formed. The two sides opened an annual India-Japan joint naval military exercise mechanism, which starts this year and carries out anti-terrorist and anti-piracy drills. Japan has established the annual exchange mechanism between senior officials from diplomatic and national defense services with the United States and Australia and now it has also established such a mechanism with India, which clearly shows that Japan has paid great attention to India's international status and role.

The outside world has varied speculations about the timing for Singh’s Japan visit, particularly the United States' influence. India has benefited much from its pro-American policies for some time because the United States has not only promoted the nuclear supplier group to allow other countries to conduct civilian nuclear energy cooperation with India but also helped enhance India’s international status to a level that beats India’s expectations. The international consensus is that given Asia’s current strategic situation, the Indian prime minister’s visit to Japan is seemingly aimed at pursuing a strategic balance of power.

Prior to the visit, Singh had already made it clear in an interview that the foremost objective of his visit to Japan is to initiate nuclear energy cooperation between India and Japan as soon as possible.

Japan has proposed that India should sign the “Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty” and participate in the negotiations over the “Convention on Banning the Production of Fissile Materials for Nuclear Weapons or Other Nuclear Explosive Devices (FMCT),” putting pressure on India. As Japan’s Toyota and Toshiba are the major shareholders of the Western companies that will be involved in India’s civilian nuclear energy development projects, U.S.-India nuclear energy cooperation cannot proceed smoothly without the nod from Japan.

Although India and Japan have started negotiations on nuclear energy cooperation, the Japanese government seems unwilling to change its attitude. India-Japan nuclear energy cooperation will mainly include the exports of Japan’s nuclear power generation technology and equipment to India, but Japan has insisted that India can neither use the technologies and equipment for military purposes nor transfer them to a third county. This is also the key principles in U.S.-India nuclear energy cooperation.

With regards to economic and trade cooperation, in 2009, the value of Japan’s exports to India stood at 569.6 billion yen, and India’s exports to Japan grossed 344.5 billion yen. Singh promised that India will export rare earth and rare metal resources to meet Japan’s demand. In addition, although the Japan-India cooperation plan of the New Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is still at the initial planning stage, it is an ideal choice for India to fully use Japan’s capital and technology to develop its own economy.

We can say that the prices and the huge market area that India gives to Japan is very attractive. However, it is still an open question of whether those conditions are able to help achieve the expected India-Japan nuclear cooperation.

By People's Daily Online


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