Backing India's quest for civilian nuclear cooperation, Japan on Tuesday indicated it was likely to back New Delhi in the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). It also requested India to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
“We intend to join the discussions which will be held in future. I understand the significance of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy as it reduces emissions,” Japan's Foreign Minister Masahiko Koumura said in New Delhi at a joint press conference with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
“On the other hand we also explained that Japan - being the only country to have suffered atomic bombs - has been helping the world in international efforts towards nuclear disarmament,” he said after concluding the second India-Japan strategic dialogue here.
Koumura also announced additional Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) of $1.04 billion for an array of projects in India, including the proposed Chennai Metro, Punjab Biomass power plant and the construction of Hyderabad Outer Ring Road.
“We need to confirm this nuclear cooperation is satisfactory and it will further strengthen disarmament and not undermine it,” Koumura replied when a Japanese journalist asked him about his discussions with his Indian counterpart on the India-US civil nuclear deal.
“We have been requesting India to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This position has not changed,” Koumura said while alluding to Japan's strong sensitivity on nuclear non-proliferation issues.
Koumura, the first foreign minister from an NSG country to visit India after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved the India-specific safeguards agreement, also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discussed with him a wide array of bilateral and global issues.
Manmohan Singh is likely to go to Japan towards the end of the year. A bilateral trade treaty is expected to be signed during his visit.
With the 63rd anniversary of the atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki only a day away on Wednesday and strong anti-nuclear domestic sentiment in his country, the minister, however, did not spell out Japan's stand in the NSG -- which has to decide at a meeting, likely Aug 21, on changing its guidelines to allow global nuclear trade with India.
Explaining Japan's stand, Kazuo Kodama, a spokesperson of the Japanese foreign ministry, told IANS that his country was planning to actively participate at the NSG meeting from “a broader and comprehensive perspective”.
Japan will take a stance in the NSG “in a manner that will not hamper but will strengthen international disarmament and non-proliferation regime”, he said, indicating that Japan will not stand in India's way in the NSG.
Mukherjee thanked Japan for joining the consensus at the IAEA that paved the way for a consideration of the nuclear deal by the NSG.
Underlining India's impeccable record in nuclear trade, Mukherjee also stressed that India's quest for global civil nuclear cooperation was “limited to only peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.
“We would like to have access to technologies that have been denied to us for many years,” he said.
“We are fully aware of Japan's sensitivity on this issue,” he added.
He also reiterated India's commitment to “total nuclear disarmament and strict adherence to non-proliferation commitment as enshrined in various international treaties”.
“Though India is not a member of the NPT, India is committed to major conditionalities in international treaties. In nuclear trade, India's record is impeccable,” he said.
Besides civilian nuclear cooperation, the two foreign ministers also discussed the progress in negotiations on finalising a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, the status of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor and the dedicated freight corridors project.
The two sides exchanged notes on global issues like the UN reforms and climate change. New Delhi reiterated the principle of collective and differentiated responsibility and opposed mandatory targets for slashing greenhouse gas emissions. Tokyo pushed for a time-bound reduction of carbon emissions.