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Japan may back India-US nuclear deal in NSG

08 May, 2006

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NEW DELHI: Ahead of the Nuclear Suppliers Group’s meeting in Brazil next month, a key politician from Japan’s ruling party has indicated that Tokyo will consider supporting the India-US nuclear deal if there is "adequate trust" between New Delhi and the international community over its nuclear programme.

"As far as peaceful uses of nuclear energy are concerned, Japan is not opposed to it," Kisaburo Tokai, director general of the international bureau of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), told IANS.

"If there is complete trust between India and the international community and India complies with provisions of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the safeguards issue, then Japan has no problems with it," he stressed.

Tokai was here as head of a four-member delegation of MPs who were visiting India to study the country’s growth story and prospects of better India-Japan relations.

Tokai, however, underlined that Japan, a victim of the only nuclear attacks in history, advocated universal nuclear disarmament and sought India’s cooperation in pushing it in various bilateral and multilateral forums.

"Japan’s position has always been complete disarmament. We need to ensure there is complete disarmament and complete elimination of nuclear weapons," said Tokai, former senior vice-minister for education, science and technology.

Japan is an influential player in the 45-nation NSG that controls global exports of nuclear technology and fuel and holds the key to facilitating civilian nuclear cooperation with India.

If Japan backs nuclear cooperation with India at the NSG meet, it will be a big diplomatic gain for New Delhi as it was one of the few countries that expressed its reservations over the India-US nuclear deal at the meeting of the NSG held last year.

Japan, which backs stronger non-proliferation institutions, can also help India deal with tricky issues of nuclear safety.

The two countries had agreed to establish a new framework to discuss the issue of civilian nuclear cooperation during Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso’s visit here early this year.

Japan, which never missed an opportunity to criticize India’s nuclear tests in 1998, has softened over the years and forged a strategic partnership with New Delhi during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi last year.

Rebutting speculations about Japan quitting the G4 initiative for expansion of the UN Security Council, Tokai clarified that Tokyo was still very much a part of the G4 grouping that comprises India, Japan, Brazil and Germany.

"We need to build international consensus on expansion of the UN Security Council. Certain steps have to be taken to push it forward," Tokai told IANS.

Tokai, however, rues that despite shared values of democracy, free market and open societies, economic relations between India and Japan have not grown to the extent they should have.

"Being major powers in Asia, India and Japan should play a bigger role on the global stage. We have to give more time to explore ways and means to make this relationship more powerful in political, economic and cultural terms," Tokai asserted.

 

End.


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