Japan offers help to make Indian nuke reactors safe

Japan offers help to make Indian nuke reactors safe

Japan offers help to make Indian nuke reactors safe

Following the radiation leakage at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant in the north-eastern part of the country after the tsunami-earthquake of early March, Japan is re-looking at its energy policy, Japan's Deputy Minister (Economy), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shinichi Nishimiya said here.

He said 'safe' nuclear power, clean fossil fuel, renewables and energy conservation would be the hallmarks of the Japanese new policy.

"In all four sectors, there is scope for bilateral cooperation between our two countries," he told reporters on the sidelines of a Ficci function.

Allaying concerns over safety, the Japanese Minister said it is quite safe for businessmen and tourists to visit his country, as Japan is free from any radiation threats.

"There is misunderstanding about radiation contamination. The government is constantly monitoring the situation and Japan remains open for business and travel," he said.

Offering Japan's disaster management technology to India and other countries, Nishimiya cited the example of how the services of high-speed trains remained unaffected in the
Fukushima region hit by the earthquake.

"All (27) trains were at speeds above 300 km per hour, but stopped automatically. Such type of disaster resistance technology is something which we are keen to share," the minister said.

He said despite the setback to the Japanese economy, it would continue with its aid programme for India through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Japanese are extending soft loans for the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and metro projects in Delhi and Bangalore.

Just yesterday, Japan had signed seven agreements worth a total of Rs 8,200 crore, which will be provided as loans for various projects.

Nishimiya said despite the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear radiation leakage, Japan expects bilateral trade with India to accelerate. He also said that Japan will consider incentives to encourage Bollywood filmmakers to look at the East Asian country as a destination for shooting as a means of attracting tourist inflows from India.

"We have signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) last year, which eases all kinds of economic activities. So I expect there will be accelerated expansion between the two countries," he said.

Nishimiya, however, refused to quote any figure regarding the trade prospects. In 2010, Indo-Japanese bilateral trade had gone up to USD 12.9 billion from 9.3 billion in the previous year.

Asked if the recent events would hurt trade prospects in the near future, Nishimiya said: "Even if that (slowdown) happens, it will be very temporary." He said that current trade between the two countries is much below potential figures.

"The total trade volume between India and Japan is only 1-2 per cent of the trade conducted by each country globally. Besides, our FDI to India is also much below our investments in China and we want to boost it," he said.

To boost arrivals of Indian tourists into Japan, the East Asian giant is looking at inviting Bollywood film-makers into the country.

"Some years back, inflow of Chinese tourists into Japan was very low. One Chinese film was shot in Hokkaido and in its wake brought a wave of tourists from China. Last year, only 70,000 Indian tourists visited Japan and we want to increase the numbers substantially," the minister said.

Nishimiya mentioned Japanese assistance to projects like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and said infrastructure could be a sector for increasing business between the two nations.

He said both countries are working together in areas like climate change. Regarding the Japanese economy, he said the country's GDP is expected to shrink by 3.7 per cent during the second quarter and the loss to the economy due to the disaster was to the tune of USD 200-330 billion.

"However, around 60 per cent of the production base in the affected areas have recovered and the remaining are expected to do so by summer. The reconstruction demand will lead to a 5.3 per cent growth in GDP during third quarter and 2.2 per cent overall in 2012. So the recovery will be sharp," Nishimiya said.

Asked about Japan's views regarding selection of the new chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the exit of Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of sexual assault last month, Nishimiya said: "We take the view as agreed by the G-20, that this would be an open and merit-based competitive process... I am not looking for any particular candidate."

He, however, said Japan has no intention of putting up any candidate for the post.
Regarding the Doha Round of global multi-lateral talks, which seek to further liberalise global trade, he said they are likely to drag beyond the original target of end of 2011.
"... Completion of the Doha Round by the end of this year, which was the target for a long time, does not look possible. But we have to maintain the momentum of the Doha Round so that we could complete it further down the road," Nishimiya said, adding that some progress may be expected during the WTO Ministerial meeting in Geneva slated for December.

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