Trade pact great but civil nuclear pact delicate issue, says Japanese media

The Daily Yomiuri, which carried an AP story headlined "Japan, India sign trade agreement" with an accompanying photograph, said the visiting Indian prime minister pushed for a nuclear energy deal, which was a touchy issue for Tokyo because of India's past atomic tests.

India's refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it said, made the proposed pact a delicate issue in the only country to have suffered atomic bomb attacks.
The Japan Times said in its report by staff writer that the economic partnership agreement would offset the fallout from China and that the nuclear pact was pending. It said that the deal to strengthen economic ties between Japan and India, "a fast growing democratic nation with a population of 1.2 billion", comes at a times when Asian nations were becoming increasingly concerned about China's activities in the East China and South China seas.

The newspaper added that it was unclear how soon the civil nuclear agreement could be concluded given the strong anti-nuclear sentiment here.

An analysis on page two headlined "Uncertainty over tests stymies India nuclear pact" said Japan faced a dilemma in negotiating the deal as it was "torn between economic gains and a national credo of abolishing nuclear weapons".

"The launch of bilateral talks in June on the nuclear cooperation record triggered an immediate outcry from survivors of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945."

The analysis also quoted Kumao Kaneko, a former diplomat, as saying that Japan should lend a "helping" hand to India because the South Asian country "crave nuclear power to meet growing domestic energy demands".

"Without Japan's technology, new nuclear power generation projects in India would not start," Kaneko said. "Refusing to offer support to India when it really needs it could ruin Japan's credibility as a friend of India. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed."

Both the Japan Times and the Yomiuri Shimbun also carried reports on the Manmohan Singh visit on the business pages.

The International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shimbun used a back page story on "India to help Japan diversify imports of rare earth minerals".

It observed that India was believed to have one of the world's biggest reserves of rare earth and that Manmohan Singh had agreed to "provide much-needed rare earth minerals to Japan, which faces a blockage from its main supplier, China".

The report also took into account the CEPA and the civil nuclear deal, observing that critics were of the view that the deal should not go through as India had yet to join the NPT.

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