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Japan-India Pact



Nuclear Deal, Infrastructure Projects and Handling China: What to Expect From Modi’s Japan Visit

By Pallavi Aiyar on 08/11/2016Leave a comment

There are several points still up for discussion before the India-Japan nuclear accord becomes a reality, including Japanese apprehensions on India misusing nuclear technology.

Tokyo: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming two-day visit to Japan takes place at a time when Asia’s second largest and third largest economies are increasingly finding common strategic ground. The November 11-12 meeting will be the third annual summit between Modi and Shinzo Abe, his Japanese counterpart. A long-anticipated nuclear civilian energy deal is the likely headline to emerge. But a raft of other issues are also on the agenda, including measures to give bilateral economic ties a fillip, defence cooperation, infrastructure projects both in India and third countries like Iran, as well as the sensitive, but crucial, issue of dealing with China’s expanding presence in the region.

Nuclear negotiations

The nuclear treaty will not only pave the way for Japan to export nuclear technology to India’s vast market, it is also a necessity for enabling India’s nuclear deals with the US, France and other countries. Key elements of nuclear reactors, including safety components and the domes of nuclear power plants, are a near-Japanese monopoly. Any deal would be significant for firms like GE-Hitachi, Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric Company and Mitsubishi-Areva.

Negotiations over the nuclear accord have been ongoing since 2008, following US-led efforts to facilitate India’s access to civilian nuclear energy technologies, despite India not being a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan temporarily halted discussions. These have since restarted, but there remain strong concerns in Japan over the possible misuse by India of nuclear technology transfers.

There will, therefore, almost certainly be key provisions in any deal aimed at allaying Japanese apprehensions, most likely a provision to cancel or suspend the accord in the event of India breaking its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing. This has been a Japanese demand since the two sides began their negotiations seven years ago. India, which successfully kept such an explicit condition out of its nuclear cooperation agreement with the US in 2007 (and with every other nuclear partner since then), has so far been reluctant to tie termination of the agreement to a nuclear test by the country.

According to Hisanori Nei, professor and nuclear energy expert at Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan will permit Indian power producers to reprocess spent fuel at designated facilities on condition that the country accepts comprehensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. But this is something that will be difficult for India to agree to.

A final sticking point is the question of liability in the event of a nuclear accident. “It is difficult to imagine that the nuclear sector is a total outlier to the general chaos of the business operating environment in India,” explained Jeff Kingston, the director of the Asian studies programme at Tokyo’s Temple University. Modi has been seeking to address the concerns of nuclear vendors on the matter of liability. It’s not clear yet that he’s done enough.

Kingston believes that Abe should be able to push a nuclear accord with India through the parliament by early 2017. He doubts there will be much political opposition, despite the fact that there are many, even within the prime minister’s own Liberal Democratic Party, who are against nuclear energy. (Polls indicate that up to 70% of the Japanese population is opposed to developing nuclear power.)

Like Kingston, most experts in Japan are optimistic that despite the challenges, the deal will be struck. Abe will sell it to a nuclear-sceptic Japanese parliament and public by embedding it in the larger context of Japanese-India ties. Geo-strategic benefits, India’s large export market and investment opportunities will be the sweeteners.

“I don’t think public opinion will be an obstacle,” said Nei, explaining that the accord did not loom large in public discourse in Japan. “The media might cover it for a week or so, and then it will be easily forgotten.”

Economic ties

Economic ties will be the other main focus of the summit. Modi wants to boost India’s economic growth by upgrading infrastructure, strengthening manufacturing and developing a network of “smart” cities – all of which would benefit from Japanese investments and technology. For his part, Abe is trying to fire up a Japanese economy that has been stuck in a holding pattern for two decades. India with its large market and growing middle-class can provide new sources of exports and investment opportunities for Japan.

Yet, despite this natural fit, economic ties are not as robust as might be expected. India-Japan trade in 2015-2016 was only $14.51 billion, a decrease of 6.47% over the previous year. In contrast, India-China trade was worth over $70 billion, while Japan-China trade is at about $350 billion. Trade with India is just 1% of Japan’s total foreign trade. And although Japan is the largest bilateral donor for India, over the past three years Japanese firms have invested more in countries like Vietnam and Indonesia rather than India.

Abe’s government has outpaced China in investment pledges to India, promising to funnel about 3.5 trillion yen ($29 billion) in infrastructure loans, financing and public and private investment. New Delhi has also has set up a special office to promote investments from Japan. At their first summit meeting in 2014, the two leaders vowed to double direct investment within five years.

Against this backdrop, there will likely be announcements of some new investments at this week’s meeting, in addition to the mega-infrastructure projects in India that Japan is already an investor in, such as the Ahmedabad-Mumbai High Speed Rail, the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.

However, as Hiroshi Hirabayashi, president of the Japan-India Association and former ambassador to India, put it, “there are too many negative stories from Japanese investors in their experience in India.” He cited a litany of cases from the unhappy merger of pharma heavyweights Ranbaxy and Daiichi Sanyko, to NTT Docomo’s sour experience with Tata Teleservices and Mitsubishi Chemical’s decision to pull out of a massive proposed investment in West Bengal.

According to Hirabayashi, while Modi’s visit cannot be expected to solve bilateral problems between companies, he can help to address issues of legality and broad-business policy. The main outcome of the summit, according to the former ambassador, will not be concrete economic problem solving, as much as positive atmospherics.

The symbolism of the visit acquires special significance against the evolving geo-strategic cartography of the region, in particular, Beijing’s rising clout and territorial claims. China is expanding its deep-water naval presence and asserts sovereignty over disputed areas of the East and South China Sea and Indian Ocean region, parts of which Japan also claims. India has its own territorial dispute with Beijing along the 4,000-km land boundary they share.

Closer ties between Japan and India are viewed with apprehension in Beijing. According to Japanese news reports, the visit will see India purchasing 12 US-2i amphibious aircraft from manufacturer ShinMaywa Industries at a price tag of between $1.5 and $1.6 billion. The aircraft sale will be one of Tokyo’s first arms deals since Japan lifted its 50-year ban on weapons exports in 2014. It will be a first for Japan, which has traditionally been reticent to supply Japanese-made military hardware to other countries. The purchase is certain to rile Beijing, which sees any military closeness between Japan and India as a potential threat. Tokyo and New Delhi already participate in annual joint military exercises along with the US.

Kingston points out that while India continues its policy of hedging, keeping up bilateral ties with both Japan and China, New Delhi is “tilting” closer to Japan than was previously the case. However, although Japan would like to see India make a strong statement of support on its claims against China in the East China Sea, it is unlikely that Modi will do so, beyond a possible reference to upholding the rule of law in settling disputes.

A final area for discussion at the summit might be the furthering of cooperation in infrastructure projects with incidental implications for China. One example is potential Japanese investment in India’s development of the Chabahar Port project in Iran, something Tokyo has expressed interest in. This would work towards counteracting the Chinese dominance of infrastructure projects in India’s neighbourhood and would help elevate New Delhi’s political and economic profile in the region.

Modi and Abe have had a long courtship. Much has been written about the affinity between the two leaders. When the Japanese prime minister signed up for Twitter, Modi was famously the first world leader he followed. If the nuclear deal, in particular, is finally inked this week, it will go some way in demonstrating that their courting is heading towards a firm commitment.


 November 7, 2016


Significant headway’ on final text before PM Narendra Modi’s Japan visit


During the last meeting between the two prime ministers in New Delhi last December, it was announced that the two sides have agreed “in principle” on inking the civil nuclear agreement.


Negotiations on a final text of the proposed Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between India and Japan have made “significant headway”, with both sides learnt to be working overtime on the technical details ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan on November 11-12.

During the last meeting between the two prime ministers in New Delhi last December, it was announced that the two sides have agreed “in principle” on inking the civil nuclear agreement. The details that the two sides are trying to forge a consensus on include the contentious issue of reprocessing of spent fuel. Officials involved in the exercise indicated that Japan is open to somewhat softening its stance on allowing the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel from Japan-made reactors, something that could have a significant bearing on the progress of the two atomic projects under discussion involving American nuclear vendors — GE-Hitachi and Toshiba-Westinghouse.

If Japan were to go ahead and ink a nuclear deal with India, it could be a crucial determining factor as the two US reactor vendors, as well as a range of other global nuclear reactor manufacturers, source the most critical equipment in a reactor — the calandria or reactor vessel — from Japanese heavy forging major Japan Steel Works (JSW). Experts point to the fact that the transfer of Japanese technology to India for civilian use requires a nuclear pact, but Tokyo has so far desisted from initiating one as India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Globally, apart from Japan’s JSW, there are just three major heavy forging capacities in operation worldwide that can fabricate large single-piece pressure vessels for nuclear reactors — Creusot Forge (a subsidiary of France’s Areva group), Russia’s OMZ Izhora and Chinese state-owned firm China First Heavy Industries. But JSW dominates the nuclear forgings business, accounting for an estimated 80 per cent of the world market for large forged components for nuclear plants and owns the world’s only plant capable of producing the central part of a large-size reactor’s containment vessel in a single piece from a 600-tonne ingot, which reduces radiation risk.

All the global suppliers are booked with orders for at least the next five years as the most critical issue for accelerating nuclear power plant construction is the availability of heavy engineering plants to make the reactor components, especially for units of over 1,000 MWe (mega watt electric).

While Toshiba-Westinghouse’s AP1000 pressure vessel closure head and three complex steam generator parts can only be made by JSW, the Japanese firm has advance orders from GE-Hitachi for fabricating components for its ABWR and ESBWR range of boiling water reactors.

JSW also has the distinction of supplying the pressure vessels for Areva’s first two 1650 MWe EPR projects in Finland and France. Reactor vendors prefer large forgings to be integral, as single products, but it is possible to use split forgings that are welded together. These welds then need checking through the life of the plant.

An NPCIL official said the process of bridging the difference over the substantive issues on the proposed India-Japan nuclear agreement in on and that both countries had made significant progress in the negotiations on civil nuclear cooperation. JSW had set up a marketing office in India in 2009 through a subsidiary — JSW India Pvt Ltd.



November 1, 2016

Japan to sign nuclear pact with India



Japan will sign an agreement on nuclear energy technology with India during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled to start on November 10th.

The agreement will be Japan's first such deal with a non-signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It will allow Japan to export nuclear power technology to India.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Modi in India last December and they came to a basic agreement regarding the deal.

The two governments have been negotiating the details of the agreement and the date of the signing.

There is concern in Japan about forming a deal with India, which has conducted nuclear tests.

The pact is expected to include a provision that prohibits the technology from being used for military purposes. If India conducts further nuclear tests, the deal would likely be suspended.

Japan has similar deals with 14 countries and territories.


Japan, India to sign energy pact on condition of no nuclear tests



Japan and India will sign a nuclear energy pact in mid-November that allows Tokyo to opt out if the South Asian nation tests its nuclear weapons, sources said.

The agreement, the first by Japan with a nation that has not ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, will be signed when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Japan later this month, a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official said.

The agreement will enable Japan to export its nuclear energy technology for private-sector use in India. But the sources said wording in the pact will give Japan, which has long pushed for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, the option of ending cooperation if India conducts a nuclear test.

At a meeting in New Delhi in December 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Modi agreed in principle to sign a nuclear energy agreement. However, Abe told his Indian counterpart, “We will discontinue cooperation should India conduct a nuclear test.”

Diplomats of the two nations have since held discussions on the agreement.

Japanese diplomats asked for wording that could be interpreted to mean Japan can cease cooperation in the event of an Indian nuclear test after the bilateral agreement takes effect.

Although Indian officials were hesitant about such wording because of concerns it could constrain India’s national security policy, they also showed an understanding toward the Japanese position.

The two nations are currently hammering out the final wording of the agreement. There is a possibility that the terminology will be vague enough to allow both nations to interpret the agreement in a way that is closer to their own national interests.

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