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Reports state that India, Japan set to sign historic civil nuclear deal this week

India and Japan are set to sign a historic civil nuclear cooperation deal during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit here this week, a move that will boost bilateral economic and security ties and facilitate leading US-based players to set up atomic plants in India.

The two countries had reached a broad agreement for cooperation in civil nuclear energy sector during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India in December last year, but the deal was yet to be signed as some issues were yet to be worked out.

Modi and Abe are set to sign the deal on Friday, Japanese Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported today. The deal would allow Japan to export nuclear technology to India, making it the first non-NPT signatory to have such a deal with Tokyo. It would also cement the bilateral economic and security ties as the two countries warm up to counter an assertive China.

There was political resistance in Japan – the only country to suffer atomic bombings during World War II – against a nuclear deal with India, particularly after the disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. Japan is a major player in the nuclear energy market and an atomic deal with it will make it easier for US-based nuclear plant makers Westinghouse Electric Corporation and GE Energy Inc to set up atomic plants in India as both these conglomerates have Japanese investments.

According to the report, India and Japan are also likely to agree that if New Delhi conducts a nuclear test, the bilateral cooperation will stop. A delegation of Japanese parliamentarians had called on Modi on Thursday in New Delhi ahead of his visit from November 11. That day, Modi also pitched for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of disaster management and risk reduction.

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