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Nuclear pact with India

December 11, 2015

Abe off to India for talks with Modi on nuclear technology pact


JIJI, Reuters

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left Friday for a three-day visit to India, where he will meet with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to discuss a proposed bilateral nuclear cooperation treaty.

Speaking to reporters at his office before departure from Tokyo International Airport at Haneda, Abe expressed his intention to make efforts to reach an agreement on measures to prevent Japanese nuclear technologies sold to India from being diverted to military use.

“Japan is the only country in the world that has ever suffered an atomic bombing,” Abe said. “We’re holding negotiations based on this fact.”

India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The nuclear cooperation agreement with India would be Japan’s first with a country outside the NPT regime.

Japan and India started negotiations on a bilateral nuclear cooperation treaty in 2010. They are in the final stages of discussions on whether to stipulate in the treaty that bilateral nuclear cooperation would be suspended if India conducts a nuclear test again. India has not carried out a nuclear test since 1998.

At their meeting slated for Saturday in New Delhi, Abe and Modi are also expected to reaffirm that their countries will strengthen cooperation with the United States at a time when China is accelerating its maritime expansion.

“I’m aiming for results (from the meeting) that will add strong momentum to the further development of the relationship between Japan and India,” Abe said.

The two leaders are also seen agreeing on the use of Japan’s shinkansen system for a planned high-speed railway between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in western India. Japan is planning to support the project with a large amount of low-interest yen loans.

On Thursday, an Indian government minister and official said India’s Cabinet has cleared a $14.7 billion Japanese proposal to build its first bullet train line, one of India’s biggest foreign investments in its infrastructure sector.

The decision ahead of Abe’s visit gives Japan an early lead over China, which is also bidding to build high-speed rail lines across large parts of India’s congested and largely British-era system.

Japan had offered to finance 80 percent of the cost of the train, which would link the financial capital Mumbai with Ahmedabad, the commercial center of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat, at an interest rate of less than 1 percent.

“It’s been done,” said a government minister who attended the Cabinet meeting headed by Modi late on Wednesday.

An official in Modi’s office confirmed the decision, saying there were some issues relating to the bullet train that had since been sorted out in time for Abe’s visit.

“We expect to make an announcement during the visit,” the official said. Both the minister and the official declined to be identified.

Broad agreements are also likely to be reached on two bilateral treaties that would enhance defense cooperation between Japan and India.

One is designed to prevent the transfer of defense technologies to a third country, while the other will specify rules for information protection.

This is Abe’s third trip to India, including during his first tenure between 2006 and 2007. It will be the fifth time for him to have bilateral talks with Modi.

Abe and Modi will together visit the sacred Hindu city of Varanasi on Saturday in a gesture to further deepen their personal relationship of trust.


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