13 Décembre 2015
December 13, 2015
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's agreement in principle to supply nuclear power technology to India may run counter to Japan's stated commitment against the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The deal was reached on Dec. 12 during a meeting between Abe, who is visiting New Delhi, and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi.
If an actual nuclear power agreement is signed, it would mark the first for Japan with a nation that has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The latest move by Japan was met swiftly with criticism in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui issued a statement on Dec. 12 asking that no nuclear power agreement with India be signed until it joined the NPT. The agreement reached between Abe and Modi "cannot be said to be in line with the position of maintaining the NPT structure by preventing its hollowing out," Matsui said.
Japan and India began negotiating a nuclear power agreement in 2010 when the Democratic Party of Japan was still in power. Japan had wanted a provision in any such deal that would allow it to immediately stop any nuclear power cooperation should India resume testing of nuclear weapons, which has been on hold since 1998.
Japan insisted on that position because of its goal of abolishing nuclear weapons, being the only nation in the world to have been subjected to the destructive power of such devices.
Although a joint declaration and a memorandum regarding a nuclear power agreement were released on Dec. 12, no provisions were included regarding a suspension of cooperation should India resume nuclear testing.
In the joint declaration, the two leaders confirmed that a nuclear power agreement would be signed after completion of the technological details through further negotiations between the two nations.
According to Japanese officials who briefed reporters, in his meeting with Modi, Abe said Japan would suspend cooperation if India resumed nuclear testing. Those officials said that reference would serve as a brake against India if it considered resumption of nuclear testing.
The move toward providing nuclear power technology with a nation that has not signed the NPT would be a major shift for Japan, which had emphasized nuclear nonproliferation until now.
At the same time, the Abe administration has placed the export of major infrastructure projects as a key pillar of its economic growth strategy, so it is eager to export nuclear power plant technology.
Before Abe's meeting with Modi, a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official said, "With the experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan is the only nation that has been hit by nuclear bombs and that is why Japan has pushed a nuclear nonproliferation diplomacy. We will not enter into an agreement that is not in line with that stance."
India has long insisted that it has the right to develop nuclear weapons. While it has announced a moratorium on nuclear testing, it apparently did not want to commit in writing any suspension of nuclear power cooperation should it ever resume nuclear testing.
This would not be the first time India has pushed for an agreement on nuclear power technology cooperation that did not contain a provision against nuclear testing.
India reached a similar deal with the United States in 2008. The United States has a domestic law that includes a provision that allows for suspension of nuclear power cooperation should nuclear testing be conducted.
The news of the latest agreement on Dec. 12 was criticized by Miyako Jodai, 76, who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945. She linked the latest agreement with the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
"The people of Fukushima are still suffering and spent nuclear fuel cannot be disposed of properly," Jodai said. "It is wrong to sell nuclear plant technology overseas by emphasizing only its safety and convenience."
(Kazuki Uechi and Yoshihiro Kando in New Delhi and Hajimu Takeda and Kaname Ohira in Tokyo contributed to this article.)