Tokyo: India is ready to seal a civilian nuclear deal and boost trade ties with Japan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, as New Delhi looks to prove its friendship in the wake of Tokyo’s bitter territorial spat with Beijing.
“I am confident that we will be able to conclude an agreement (on a civilian nuclear deal), which will be a win-win proposition for both of us,” Singh told a group of Japanese media, before heading to Tokyo to meet with his Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan on a three-day trip.
His visit comes as Tokyo struggles to repair ties with Beijing, hit by the worst diplomatic row in years over a disputed island chain in the East China Sea.
Singh said India would like Tokyo to be its partner in nuclear energy, noting that Japan has “one of the highest and most advanced nuclear technologies.”
Japan and India launched talks in June on signing an atomic civilian cooperation agreement that will allow Tokyo to export nuclear power generation technology and related equipment to energy-hungry India.
But Japan, which was hit by World War II US atomic bombings, has warned India that conducting any new nuclear tests would force a halt to any civilian nuclear cooperation with the South Asian giant, as India has developed nuclear arms without signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“With regards to tests, we have unilaterally declared a moratorium on explosive testing, and we have no intention” of revising that commitment, Singh said in an interview broadcast by NHK.
Singh and Kan were Monday expected to declare the completion of talks on an economic partnership agreement (EPA), which Singh said would open up the fast-growing Indian market to Japanese firms.
“I attach great importance to the potential of the economic cooperation,” Singh said. The EPA “will boost our trade and economic ties many-fold.”
Japan’s high technology and India’s “fast-extending market,” if combined, can bring about “mutually beneficial growth opportunities” for both countries, Singh said, as quoted by Jiji Press.
Japan, a greying nation with a shrinking population, has long tried to enhance ties with emerging economies but its relations with China, Asia’s other population giant, hit rock bottom in a row following Japan’s arrest of a Chinese trawlerman last month in disputed waters.
Beijing reacted angrily to the arrest, cancelling all high level talks and civilian programmes as well as suspending exports of rare earth minerals crucial for Japan’s high-tech industries.
India has seized on this blocking of exports as a chance to step into a gap, with Singh saying New Delhi and Tokyo can cooperate on the production of rare earth minerals in India.
“This should be an added incentive for many countries which have a potential to produce rare earths to take advantage of that opportunity,” Singh said.
But he added that “It’s our sincere hope” that any Japan-China disputes involving maritime activities or maritime boundaries will be “resolved peacefully through diplomatic channels.”