Need India in NSG to promote non-proliferation: Japan

As China refuses to let go of its opposition to India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid, Japan has reiterated support for India saying its presence in NSG will help promote non-proliferation.

In its first official comments over the issue after the Indian bid collapsed in the face of Chinese resistance in the Seoul NSG meeting earlier this year, top Japanese foreign ministry told TOI in an exclusive interaction that they continued to work with India to make its membership possible.

“We intend to continue working with India on the issue as we believe its membership of NSG will help strengthen the non-proliferation regime ,” said Yasuhisa Kawamura, the Director-General of Press and Public Diplomacy in Japan’s ministry of foreign affairs, adding that Japan will continue to discuss the issue with other member states.

While Kawamura said China’s conduct in blocking India’s membership was obvious to all, he added Japan did not want to make any comment on consultations within NSG over the issue. “The fundamental issue is to ensure consensus building and we are working for it,” said Kawamura, who served as Japan’s deputy chief of mission in Delhi until a few years ago.

Another old India hand in Japan’s ministry of foreign affairs and senior regional coordinator in southwest Asia division, Masayuki Taga, said India’s membership will help Japan promote non-proliferation.

While supporting India’s bid, Japan remains unwavering in its commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and Kawamura, in fact, said Japan as a “general sentiment” will continue to ask India to sign the Treaty. Tokyo, however, has not allowed India’s NPT non-signatory status to come in the way of its cooperation with New Delhi for the latter’s presence in NSG.

This is in complete contrast to China, which is accused of violating both NPT and NSG guidelines in supplying nuclear technology to its ally Pakistan, while using the same to juxtapose India’s claim with that of Islamabad. China says India’s presence in NSG will weaken the international non-proliferation regime but was itself accused recently by Arms Control Association of contradicting the 2010 NPT consensus, which forbids transfer of nuclear materials to countries which are not under full-scope IAEA safeguards, in sharing nuclear technology with Pakistan.

When asked about Pakistan’s bid, Kawamura and other officials said India, unlike some other countries, had already made efforts to strengthen export control regime. “There are some countries which need to make more efforts,” said Kawamura.

India’s unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing is one such effort, he said. That, in fact, was also the basis for Japan’s decision to sign a pact with India for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Amid reports that the MoU signed had run into technical difficulties, Japan said it was convinced that things were moving in the right direction.
“I have a positive sense that we are making appropriate efforts,” said Kawamura. Japan is currently legally vetting the pact signed and after some clarifications will look to sign the final agreement. The agreement will then have to be passed by Japan’s Diet.

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