Nuclear pacts with Turkey, UAE face delay

Kyodo

Civil nuclear accords agreed to with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates are increasingly unlikely to clear the Diet by the end of the extra session on Dec. 6 due to lack of deliberation time, people close to Diet affairs say.

While the accords, which will allow Japan to export nuclear power infrastructure to those countries, are likely to be approved in the ordinary Diet session early next year or later, the delay of their approval may throw cold water on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to visit in January.

The ruling camp, led by the Liberal Democratic Party, has put priority on deliberations at a House of Representatives special committee dealing with the controversial state secrecy bill, leaving insufficient time for legislative matters in the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee.

With his government eager to expand the economy with the help of nuclear exports, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has visited Turkey twice this year, and his government was hoping to have the accord with Ankara approved before the Turkish leader’s visit.

The failure to do so will “spoil the friendly mood” between Japan and Turkey, a Foreign Ministry source said.

To be finalized, the civil nuclear accords must be approved in the House of Councilors after being approved in the more powerful Lower House.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has frequently attended special committee meetings during the extra session, leaving the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee little time to process more than unrelated accords that have been carried over from previous Diet sessions.

Even if extended, the extra Diet session is unlikely to be extended much, given the need to compile a budget for the new fiscal year, which begins in April.

That has left doubt about the prospects for the accords with Turkey and the UAE being approved in the House of Councilors during the extra session, the sources said.