The Japanese government is reported to have decided to suspend civil nuclear cooperation talks with India and four other countries — Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
Tokyo’s decision, said to be a sequel to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s latest move to take the country away from the nuclear energy path, was reported by Kyodo news agency on Saturday.
The agency quoted a Japanese government source as saying that any move to proceed with the talks now “could risk contradicting the Prime Minister’s policy.”
Japanese Foreign Ministry ‘not aware’
Contacted by The Hindu, Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hidenobu Sobashima said on Saturday night that he was “not aware of any change of policy [on civil nuclear talks with India and others] at this point.”
The Foreign Ministry is a prime mover for civil nuclear talks with external powers, and Mr. Sobashima is authorised to speak on the subject.
Without confirming or contradicting Tokyo’s reported move to suspend civil nuclear talks with India and others, Mr. Sobashima said Mr. Kan, who called for an eventual farewell to nuclear energy even for peaceful purposes, clarified that he was making a “personal comment.”
As a result, a high-level view in the Foreign Ministry was that there would be “no contradiction” between Mr. Kan’s “long-term wish and the present situation.”
India ‘not informed’
Another source told The Hindu that India, until nightfall on Saturday, was not informed of any Japanese decision to suspend the bilateral civil nuclear talks.
As a long-time ‘nuclear pacifist,’ Japan did not, at first, join the “nuclear rush” towards India that was triggered by the 2008 decision of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in New Delhi’s favour.
And, it was only in mid-2010 that Japan, citing “India’s importance” among other factors, began bilateral talks for a civil nuclear cooperation pact.
Even as the talks between Tokyo and New Delhi were not proving to be a smooth sail, Japan was shaken by the March 11 temblor and tsunami and the collateral nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Hindu