India has been seeking Japan’s cooperation on issues related to nuclear energy for many years now. Marking a step forward in that direction, last year in December 2015, a memorandum was signed between Indian PM Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. While the final technical and legal issues were left to be discussed later, a report in The Hindu suggests that now a final agreement is expected to be signed between the two countries later this week in Tokyo, during Modi’s two-day visit.
It is believed that this deal will boost bilateral economic and security ties. It might even encourage leading U.S.-based investors to set up atomic plants in India. In 2015, Modi had said, “The memorandum we signed on civil nuclear energy cooperation is more than just an agreement for commerce and clean energy. It is a shining symbol of a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership in the cause of a peaceful and secure world.”
Negotiations between the two countries for a civil nuclear deal originally began in 2010. However, talks were put on hold after the unfortunate accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011. Negotiations had resumed in May 2013 between India’s then PM Manmohan Singh and Shinzo Abe however not much transpired back then.
When PM Modi came into office, Japan perhaps had a change of heart given the extraordinary camaraderie shared between the PM Modi and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe. As per a report in India Today, such is the fondness that Shinzo Abe has for the Indian PM that he was one among the only 3 people Shinzo Abe followed for a long time after joining twitter.
What’s in it for India?
It is known that India had refrained from signing the Non Proliferation Treat (NPT) in 1968 and has thus been largely excluded from international trade in nuclear plant and materials for over three decades. However, a special agreement in 2009 enabled India to engage in nuclear trade with those countries with which it has since signed cooperation agreements.
India has had agreements with Australia, Canada, France, Kazakhstan, Russia, the UK, USA and now, as plans suggest, is hoping to ink an agreement with Japan. Such agreements bring an influx of foreign technology and fuel support that help India meet its energy needs. Apart from reaping more environmental benefits, India has a lot to gain economically from this deal.
This deal is of paramount importance to India as it needs to secure advanced nuclear reactors for sites coming up at Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and Japan has superior designs than most countries that will suit India’s needs. Reports suggest that Tamil Nadu and Kerala have benefited from the Kudankulam nuclear plant as it a massive source of Power to the states but activists say that the plant is useless when it comes to meeting the states energy needs. It was met by a lot of protest by the local community of fishermen and villagers living in the areas around the plant. The incident raised questions, whether India is capable of implementing safety protocols that are needed in setting up and maintaining nuclear power plants.
In addition, for India to get into the league of NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) it needs support from countries like US, France and Japan. While India already has an agreement with US and France, the meeting with Japan later this week remains the most coveted. Once a part of the NSG, India can do much more in its nuclear field.
In the realm of international Politics
The tension between Pakistan and India often creates a nail biting situation, while China has been helping Pakistan with nuclear reactors, India has not had any substantial support from other countries as they do not want to be in China’s bad books. With relations between China and Japan not being exactly hunky-dory, as the two nations are at logger heads over the possession of territory ( Senkaku and Diaoyu Islands ) in the East China Sea, Japan helping India as an ally makes complete sense.
Although the Indo-US civil nuclear deal has been signed it has not been implemented . The US seeing a rival inking a nuclear pact with India, might dive in for a speedy implementation of the deal for the benefits.
What’s in it for Japan?
This deal will mainly help Japan for economical reasons as companies like Mitsubishi and Hitachi are also in the nuclear energy field, and they are running in loss ever since the Fukushima disaster. These companies are frantically looking for new markets to expand in and there could be no better place than energy starved India. Japan had initially opposed the Indo-US Nuclear deal, as India wasn’t a member of NSG but later changed its position after realizing that its going to be the sole loser in the lucrative Indian market.
We recommend reading this article that explains how none of the agreements have actually seen any real groundwork. There is an article that also says that this deal doesn’t mean as much as its made out to be.
Feature Image Courtesy: The Hindu