(Tokyo Shimbun: December 16, 2015 – p. 5)
Japan and India agreed in principle to conclude a nuclear agreement. If Japan exports its technology of nuclear power generation to India, which possesses nuclear weapons, it will shake the spirit of the nonproliferation fundamentally.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited India to meet with his Indian counterpart Modi. The two agreed on the nuclear cooperation and the introduction of Japan’s bullet train system for India’s high-speed railway project.
India conducted two nuclear tests in the past. The country has not joined the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT). Japan, however, moved forward with the bilateral agreement for the reasons that India has continued its moratorium on nuclear tests since 1998 and has not transferred its nuclear technology to a third country. Abe told Modi in the summit that “If India conducts a nuclear test, he will suspend the agreement,” but they did not put that in writing.
The Japanese government has submitted resolutions for the abolishment of nuclear weapons in the UN General Assembly, which the assembly has adopted for 22 consecutive years. Japan has suffered atomic bombing. Exporting nuclear technology to a country with nuclear weapons will diminish Japan’s initiative in support of nuclear disarmament. The mayors of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki cities voiced their concern about the agreement this time.
The consultation with India on nuclear cooperation began during the government of the Democratic Party of Japan. The Abe administration accelerated the negotiations as part of its growth strategy. Abe apparently took into consideration the intention of the business community, which wants to find a means of surviving in overseas markets after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
India’s population is 1.2 billion. The country needs to solve its serious power shortage and to reduce greenhouse gas from coal-burning power generation. Under the circumstances, New Delhi is positive about increasing nuclear power plants. The country already has nuclear agreements with the U.S. and France. Nuclear-related companies in the U.S., France, and Japan are involved in joint ventures and cooperation. Without a nuclear agreement with Japan, India would not be able to construct nuclear plants in full scale. That was the circumstance of India.
But if Japan focuses only on economic benefits, it will lose sight of the importance of disarmament and nonproliferation.
Negotiations between the U.S. and Russia on reducing nuclear arms are at a complete standstill, and the NPT structure is facing a crisis. If Japan gives India preferential treatment by providing New Delhi with nuclear technology, that will further weaken the NPT.
There remains tension between India and neighboring Pakistan, which also possesses nuclear weapons. New Delhi possesses long-range ballistic missiles (with a range of 5,000 kilometers), which can cover all of China.
In the summit, the two leaders postponed a deal on the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. Japan needs to ask India in no uncertain terms for safeguard measures to prevent the diversion of the nuclear technology to military use and to proceed with the negotiations carefully. As a country that suffered atomic bombing, Japan bears a heavy responsibility for calling on international community for nuclear disarmament.