M A I N   N E W S

No N-deal but boost for Indo-Japan defence ties
8 pacts on tourism, science & tech, energy inked
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 25
Amid increasing Chinese assertiveness in the region, India and Japan on Saturday decided to intensify defence and maritime cooperation, but made little headway in wrapping up the much-anticipated civil nuclear deal.

As part of growing trade and economic links, Japan announced a loan of $2 billion for the expansion of the Delhi Metro project. The two countries also announced the expansion of the bilateral currency swap arrangement from $15 billion to $50 billion.

The two countries signed eight agreements in various fields after wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe at the annual India-Japan Summit here this evening. Abe, who is keen to forge a strong relationship with India in view of the threat China poses to Japan, will be the chief guest at Sunday’s Republic Day parade.

“Japan is at the heart of India’s Look East Policy. It is also a key partner in our economic development and in our quest for a peaceful, stable and prosperous Asia and the world,’’ Manmohan Singh said in a statement after the talks.

The visiting leader noted there had been steady progress in the strategic and global partnership between the two countries. He emphasised that cooperation between the defence forces of the two countries would contribute to the region’s peace and security. He also promised India his country’s full support in becoming a member of the four international export control regimes -- the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. A joint statement issued at the end of the talks said India had invited the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force for the next edition of the ‘Malabar’ maritime exercise conducted annually by Indian and US forces. In 2007, India had invited Australia, Singapore and also Japan for the exercise. Japan’s participation had angered Beijing no end.

India and Japan also agreed to launch consultations between the Secretary General of the National Security Secretariat of Japan and Indian’s National Security Advisor. This is considered significant as the dialogue will provide the two countries an opportunity to discuss strategic issues of importance as well as regional threats.

New Delhi also lent its support to Tokyo in its ongoing tussle with Beijing over China’s controversial decision to set up an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea that requires its neighbours to give advance notice while overflying the territory.

“The two Prime Ministers underscored the importance of freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with recognised principles of international law and relevant standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO),’’ the joint statement said.

However, it was quite clear that the two countries were still not able to resolve their differences over civil nuclear cooperation despite marathon talks over nearly four years. The joint statement said the Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction over the progress in talks and directed officials to exert further efforts towards early conclusion of the agreement. Abe stressed the importance of bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force at an early date while Manmohan Singh reiterated India’s commitment to unilateral moratorium on further nuclear testing.

The eight agreements signed between the nations are in the areas of tourism, science and technology, harmonising standards and enhancing energy efficiency in telecom towers.

NPT, liability law main hurdles

  • A section of Japanese policymakers wants India to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
  • India wants to have a deal with Japan on the basis of its existing strong anti-proliferation credentials
  • Japan wants India to clarify its nuclear liability law that prevents suppliers from making themselves immune to compensation claims in the event of an accident. The two sides had held three rounds of talks before the 2011 Fukushima N-plant disaster





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