Okada Discusses Terms of Nuclear Accord with India

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Tokyo -- On his visit to New Delhi yesterday, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada emphasized that any further nuclear weapons testing by India would result in a "suspension" in civilian nuclear cooperation between the two nations.

Okada is said to be pushing for such an understanding to be incorporated directly into the anticipated Japan-India accord, but New Delhi has been resisting that proposal.

India is not a signatory to the NPT, but nevertheless Tokyo is following Washington by entering into nuclear energy cooperation talks with the great South Asian power.

Okada remarked, "I do not think we can say, we can suggest that India refrain absolutely from conducting any nuclear tests. But if such a thing were to happen, then I think Japan will have no option but to state that we shall suspend our cooperation."

The Japanese foreign ministry has been insisting in recent months that it is satisfied with New Delhi's nuclear weapons nonproliferation activities and expects that India will not carry out further nuclear testing in the future.

Okada also remarked that starting nuclear energy cooperation with India has been "one of the toughest decisions that I had to make as foreign minister amongst the numerous decisions that I have made so far."

The Japanese foreign ministry has admitted that one key factor in this decision was to allow Japanese firms to participate in what is expected to be a US$150 billion Indian nuclear energy market.

Another item that was on the agenda during Okada's visit is a proposed multibillion-dollar Japanese loan for the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor connecting northern cities with western ports.

Japan is the sixth-largest foreign investor in India with two-way trade totaling more than US$12 billion.

Below are the relevant sections of the press conference that Okada held jointly with his Indian counterpart, Shri S. M. Krishna.

Joint Press Conference

External Affairs Minister Shri S. M. Krishna: Foreign Minister Okada and I have just concluded the 4th round of the India-Japan Strategic Dialogue. It has been a pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Okada on his first official, bilateral visit to India as the foreign minister of Japan.

Earlier today, we had a productive exchange of ideas on how to further strengthen the many dimensions of the India-Japan Strategic and Global Partnership. We discussed ways of further consolidating the excellent political, economic, security, and people-to-people relations that India and Japan enjoy.

We affirmed the fundamental and inherent strength of India-Japan relations, which is demonstrated in the continuing logic of our Partnership which has withstood changes in government in both our countries. We agreed on the pivotal role of economic cooperation in steering our ties forward. We recognized that both sides have a mutual stake in each other's prosperity and progress. I thanked Japan for their continuing Official Development Assistance to India as well as their assistance to flagship infrastructure projects like the Dedicated Freight Corridor, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the establishment of IIT-Hyderabad. FM Okada reiterated Japan's commitment towards these projects.

I conveyed to Foreign Minister Okada our appreciation of Japan's decision to commence negotiations on a bilateral Agreement on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. As you are aware, the first round of negotiations was held in Tokyo on June 28-29 this year. We agreed that the negotiations will continue quickly and that we will jointly work towards a good agreement which will result in a win-win situation for both India and Japan. We do not intend fixing set a time-line for the conclusion of such an agreement.

I thanked the government of Japan for removing eleven Indian entities from their End User List. This will provide a big boost to high technology trade between India and Japan.

We exchanged views on the evolving regional architecture in Asia and agreed to work together in ensuring that such an architecture is open and inclusive. As member-nations of the East Asia Summit we welcomed the ASEAN Foreign Ministers decision to move towards the inclusion of the United States and Russia in the EAS.

We also agreed to continue and enhance our consultations within the G-4 process for reform of the United Nations including its Security Council. I have accepted Foreign Minister Okada's invitation to meet with other G-4 Foreign Ministers in New York in September this year on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Session.

We also discussed regional issues of interest to both India and Japan. We also agreed to enhance dialogue between the Foreign Offices of our two countries on several regions. We decided to embark on a new Dialogue on Africa, with a view to synergizing our developmental efforts in that continent.

We discussed global issues like climate change, non-proliferation and disarmament. I conveyed our willingness to Foreign Minister Okada to work with Japan to ensure a balanced, comprehensive, equitable, and effective outcome in the UN-led process on climate change at COP-16 in Mexico. On disarmament issues, I conveyed that India and Japan share the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world. We are ready to work with Japan to achieve such an objective in a comprehensive, non-discriminatory, and verifiable framework.

Foreign Minister Okada invited me to Japan for the next round of the Annual Strategic Dialogue. I have accepted his invitation with pleasure and look forward to visiting Japan at a mutually convenient time next year. Thank you.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada: Today, together with External Affairs Minister Krishna, we held the fourth round of the Foreign Ministerial Strategic Dialogue. We were able to engage in an extremely useful exchange of views on the efforts to further consolidate our bilateral relations and on numerous regional and international issues.

On economic cooperation, as Minister Krishna just mentioned a while ago, we agreed that with regard to the Dedicated Freight Corridor project and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project we shall continue to implement these projects steadily. In the meeting I stated that India already is the largest recipient of Japanese Official Development Assistance, and that we shall continue to firmly work with each other on this economic cooperation in the days ahead as well.

As the minister has just mentioned earlier with regard to East Asia Summit, we also confirmed that we shall welcome the inclusion of both the United States and Russia. We also exchanged views with regard to such countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea.

Having said all that, broadly speaking we concentrated notably on the following three points in our discussions - first economic area, second civil nuclear cooperation, and thirdly UN Security Council reforms.

First with regard to our economic relations, I said that thanks to the efforts made by both our countries we have seen a notable deepening in the economic relations between our two countries in recent times; and yet they still fall short of their potential and, therefore, we really need to further redouble our efforts to raise our economic relations.

I said that it will certainly not be beyond our imagination if say trade and investment relations or people-to-people contacts between our two countries in the economic sphere grew ten-fold from the present level. In this connection I made two specific suggestions. The first is to establish an Economic Ministerial Meeting.

The second point I have made was with regard to Economic Partnership Agreement. We believe that the negotiations on EPA should be finalized by the time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Japan. We exchanged views in our meeting today on the remaining issues.

I would also like to speak of the second subject which is the civil nuclear cooperation agreement. I first expressed my appreciation for the efforts that have been made to date by India for nuclear nonproliferation and towards a nuclear weapons free world. Having said that, I also stated very candidly that the decision to launch the negotiations for the nuclear cooperation agreement was probably one of the toughest decisions that I had to make as foreign minister amongst the numerous decisions that I have made so far.

The background to that is that Japan is the only country that has experienced atomic attacks and against the policy of seeking a nuclear weapon free world. And would it not run counter to that policy of Japan to seek a nuclear weapons free world if we are to engage in nuclear cooperation with a country, India, that is not a member to NPT?

Considering that domestic criticism in Japan is high, I asked for consideration on the part of India so that this philosophy of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation would be contained in the nuclear cooperation agreement. In addition to that I also conveyed to Mr. Krishna that Japan also attaches importance to the efforts that India makes and will be making towards an early conclusion and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as well as efforts towards Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty talks.

Let me turn to the third point which is the reform of the UN Security Council. As External Affairs Minister has already mentioned, indeed I did make a proposal that the G-4 foreign ministers gather on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in September to discuss this matter. I suggested that this question of the UN Security Council reform should be considered as an important part of global governance issue. We reaffirmed that Japan and India shall cooperate with each other in order to realize these reforms. And I look forward to cooperating very closely with India on specific ways and means shall I say in approaching African countries in this regard.

I might also add that in the meeting that I had earlier today with Prime Minister Singh, I also gave an outline of these three points. Thank you.

Official Spokesperson: Excellency, thank you very much. The two ministers would be very happy to take two questions from each side. You may like to address your question to either of the ministers but please indicate whether the question is for the External Affairs Minister or for the Foreign Minister. Also, please introduce yourself and your organization. You are requested to kindly restrict your questions to India-Japan relations. The first question goes to the Japanese side.

Question (Japanese Media): I would like to ask questions with regard to economic relations. You mentioned that in the meeting you suggested that the economic ministers meeting be held. I wonder first of all what sort of themes you have for the ministerial meeting, their framework, and when likely the first meeting would take place? Secondly on EPA, I understand that promoting EPA is one of the major pillars of the Democratic Party of Japan administration's growth strategy. I want to know what will be the strategic significance of finalizing EPA talks between Japan and India by the time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Japan, and the likely impact that it would have on the Japanese economy. Thirdly, with regard to the remaining issues, I wonder how you intend to settle those issues within the coming several months? Are you going to make some political judgment towards that settlement? These are all questions for Minister Okada.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada: First with regard to economic ministerial meeting. In fact, just next week I shall be attending a similar economic ministerial meeting between Japan and China as Chair. So, the idea is to establish a similar gathering between Japan and India as well. In this connection I also suggested that one possibility might be to combine or have private business people attend as well. This after all is just a proposal that I made today, and I appreciate it if the Indian side would be kind enough to consider this possibility.

The question with regard to EPA was, will it really be effective? My answer to that would be, well, the effects could be unfathomably deep. Some problems do remain. However, my understanding is that the talks are proceeding relatively smoothly. Ultimately, I think the matter may have to be put to a political decision. Just yesterday, ministers concerned in the Japanese cabinet gathered and to some extent discussed this Japan-India EPA. After returning to Japan I shall again discuss these remaining issues with my colleague ministers. But I hope that we shall be able to make our political decision so that when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Japan we shall be able to have an agreement.

What I said to Prime Minister Singh was that we really have to raise the Japan-India economic relations one step or two steps above the current level. I believe that this EPA will serve as an important means to do that.

Official Spokesperson: Due to paucity of time I would earnestly request you all to please restrict yourself to one question either to the External Affairs Minister or to the Foreign Minister.

Question (Indian Media): My question is to the Foreign Minister of Japan. What specific commitment on nonproliferation issue do you expect from India before the Indo-Japanese nuclear deal is finalized? Also is it true about the reports that Japan is insisting on a clause which says if India tests again the deal will be over?

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada: It is really about negotiations of the agreement that will be proceeding from now on and, therefore, I believe it is best not for me to say anything definitively. Having said that, I look forward to engaging in in-depth discussions with the Indian side regarding the formulation or wording so that the philosophy of nonproliferation and disarmament will be built into the agreement. I do not think we can say, we can suggest that India refrain absolutely from conducting any nuclear tests. But if such a thing were to happen, then I think Japan will have no option but to state that we shall suspend our cooperation.

Question (Japanese Media): I would like to ask these questions for Minister Okada with regard to the nuclear cooperation agreement. Minister Krishna earlier mentioned in his opening remarks the discussions regarding peaceful uses of nuclear energy. I wonder, Minister Okada, if you could explain what sort of discussions you had, and also essentially what sort of exchange of views did you have on this matter. Secondly, have you got any rough idea as to when you wish to conclude the nuclear cooperation agreement?

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada: I was not entirely clear about the purport of the question. But these are discussions now on the nuclear cooperation agreement and as such it goes without saying that we are discussing peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As for timeline, I would say as soon as possible. But we have not really set any specific deadline.

Question (Indian Media): My question is addressed to Indian Foreign Minister. Sir, how do you plan to first of all address Japan's concern on the testing of a nuclear device?

External Affairs Minister Shri S. M. Krishna: The very fact that Japan has commenced negotiations with India in order to work out a bilateral agreement on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the first round of negotiations were held in Tokyo, and we will continue a follow-up on that as quickly as possible. And as I mentioned in my opening statement, there is no timeline for the conclusion of any such agreement.

New Delhi
August 21, 2010

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