Japan will conduct a safety verification exercise before exporting nuclear power equipment. But the move implies “no change in Japan's negotiations with India for civil nuclear energy cooperation,” according to Japanese spokesman Hidenobu Sobashima.

India and Japan have so far held three rounds of talks aimed at clinching a bilateral agreement on civil nuclear cooperation.

Mr. Sobashima toldThe Hindufrom Tokyo the “verification exercise” was part of the latest “guidelines” for promoting policies aimed at reconstructing the quake-and-tsunami-hit areas of Japan.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami ruined the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The radiation crisis, triggered then, is yet to be brought under control. And, the future course of Tokyo's civil nuclear cooperation with other countries has also come in for unusual speculation, following Prime Minister Naoto Kan's recent move to “review from scratch” Japan's total energy policy. The primacy of atomic power in Japan's total energy mix is also being covered under this review.

Mr. Sobashima said the latest “guidelines for policy promotion” were designed to facilitate Japan's “new growth” strategy. But, he emphasised, there was “no decision [now] to decrease civil nuclear cooperation with foreign countries.”

On Japan's move to cut Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the developing countries by 10 per cent this year, Mr. Sobashima said the existing commitments were not being targeted as part of this exercise.