Once new government assumes office both sides can schedule high level interactions

India is hoping that the election of a new Japanese Prime Minister on Monday would end the stalemate in bilateral ties due to political instability in Tokyo and the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

``We thought India-Japan ties are immune to changes in government in Tokyo. Unfortunately domestic stability in Japan has caught up with our bilateral relations for the last three to five months,'' said government sources.

Once a new government is in place, both sides will be able to take a call on the dates for several high level interactions including visits by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Defence Minister A.K. Antony, both in October, that would culminate in an annual summit between the two Prime Ministers towards the end of the year.

Both sides also have to decide on the dates for 2 + 2 dialogue involving the Foreign and Defence Secretaries from both countries. They will also have to take a call on the proposed trilateral — Japan, U.S. and India — which was announced by then Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao during a trip to Japan shortly after the tsunami in March this year.

Officials here acknowledge that Japan is currently preoccupied with coping with the Fukushima nuclear plant accident and the fashioning the road ahead for its nuclear industry. Once this issue is resolved, they expect some speeding up of pending issues.

The nuclear issue is nowhere near resolution and that has implications for the U.S. and French companies which depend on Japanese firms for critical components for nuclear power plants they have been asked to set up in India. The conventional wisdom is that the Japanese companies cannot go ahead with their collaboration with nuclear companies from France and the U.S. in India without a India-Japan civil nuclear agreement.

Desultory discussions have taken place on the nuclear issue but the fact is post-Fukushima, Japan has been so involved with its domestic preoccupation that there has been no progress. Talks with India, which is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty could be complicated by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's plan to run on an anti-nuclear platform in the next elections.

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor too requires a political push from Tokyo for Japanese companies to make up their minds on investing in the mega industrialisation project. The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion has already moved a Cabinet note seeking Rs. 13,000 crore for developing the corridor. Similarly there had been little movement in Japan's desire to import rare earths from India.

With a new government in place and visits by Mr. Krishna and Mr. Antony, officials hope decisions on future trajectory of defence ties, partnerships with Japan on regional and international issues and pending bilateral issues will get speeded up.

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