India-Japan nuclear deal stuck on technical details

The agreement misses Japan’s National Diet session

June 08, 2016 01:29 am | Updated September 16, 2016 11:23 am IST - NEW DELHI:

The India-Japan civil nuclear agreement is likely to have a long waiting period, probably more than a year, before it fructifies. This is because, the National Diet failed to take up the agreement in the summer legislative session which ended on June 1. Japanese diplomats further told The Hindu that even the “technical details” of the deal were yet to be finalised.

The civil nuclear agreement firmed up during the visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in December 2015 needs the legislative approval as Japan wants to convince the political parties in the Diet that the “nuclear cooperation by Japan shall be carried out only for peaceful purposes”, Yasuhisa Kawamura, Press Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affair of Japan told The Hindu.

“The summer session of the Diet ended on June 1 and the nuclear agreement was not taken up for discussion. The next session of the Diet is in autumn,” Japanese ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu said on Tuesday in Delhi indicating that the agreement failed to make it to the Diet despite growing expectation that Japan would fast track the legislative approval for the same which came up after India concluded similar agreements with several major nuclear energy producing countries including the U.S.

Elaborating on the ambassador’s comments, Mr. Kawamura said “both Japan and India have been working on technical details of the Japan-India nuclear cooperation agreement, which have to be finalised as is mentioned in the memorandum which two Prime Ministers signed last December,” and added that the “schedule of submitting the Agreement to the Diet has not been yet decided”.

Internal procedures

Mr. Kawamura said that Japan began a public outreach on the deal on the line that “ ‘the two Governments confirm that the Agreement will be signed after the technical details are finalised, including those related to the necessary internal procedures’, as mentioned in the memorandum signed by two Prime Ministers last December”.

He said that the Japanese position in the technical details centres around the idea that the nuclear cooperation will be carried out “only for peaceful purposes.”

Bilateral discussion on the nuclear deal is likely to take place during the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Tokyo. However, the visit has not been finalised so far.

Amphibious planes

Talking about the defence cooperation, Mr. Hiramatsu stated that both sides had agreed on transfer of military technology and are in the process of identifying which technologies and platforms to be transferred to New Delhi.

“We hope some action is taken by Indian side on US-2 amphibious planes. We are waiting for a decision by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC),” he said.

Asked if Japan was willing to transfer technology and why the deal was held up for so long, Mr. Hiramatsu said they were willing and “India must first decide what they want.”

India and Japan have been are negotiating the purchase of 12 ShinMaywa built US-2 amphibious aircraft since 2014. It was even mentioned during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan in 2014 and was to open up high technology cooperation between the two countries.

However the deal is held up due to technology transfer issues as India had proposed assembling 10 of the planes in India as part of its ‘Make in India’ initiative.

(With additional reporting from Dinakar Peri)

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