TOKYO: Japan and India signed a civilian nuclear accord on Friday, opening the door for Tokyo to supply New Delhi with fuel, equipment and technology for nuclear power production, as India looks to atomic energy to sustain its rapid economic growth.
It was the first time Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, has concluded such a pact with a country that is not signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The accord stipulates nuclear fuel and equipment provided can only be used for peaceful purposes, and a separate document signed alongside the nuclear agreement has a clause allowing Japan to terminate the pact if India conducts a nuclear test.
Friday’s accord was signed after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
India says the NPT is discriminatory and it has concerns about nuclear-armed China as well as its long-time nuclear-armed rival, Pakistan.
India is in advanced negotiations with U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric, owned by Japan’s Toshiba Corp, to build six nuclear reactors in southern India, part of New Delhi’s plan to ramp up nuclear capacity more than ten times by 2032.
For Japanese nuclear plant makers such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, it is crucial to expand their business overseas as the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster chilled domestic demand for new nuclear plants.
The nuclear agreement with Japan follows a similar one with the United States in 2008 which gave India access to nuclear technology after decades of isolation.
That step was seen as the first big move to build India into a regional counterweight to China.
Modi earlier on Friday praised the “growing convergence” of views between his nation and Japan, saying strong ties will enable them to play a stabilising role in Asia and the world.