The civilian nuclear cooperation deal signed by Tokyo and New Delhi last week paves the way for Japan to export nuclear power equipment and technology to India, which is a non-signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and possesses nuclear weapons. When the pact is submitted for its endorsement, the Diet needs to scrutinize whether it is appropriate from the viewpoint of the international regime against nuclear proliferation and consistent with the efforts of Japan — the sole country to have experienced nuclear attacks — to promote nonproliferation and the abolition of nuclear arms.

In concluding the deal with his visiting Indian counterpart Narendra Modi last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — who is pushing the export of nuclear technology in his efforts for promote overseas infrastructure sale as a key pillar of his growth strategy — emphasized that the deal will lead to India effectively joining the nonproliferation regime. The two countries have concurred that Japan can terminate the accord if India ends its voluntary moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, which has been in place since 2008. Questions persist, however, as to how tight will be the guarantee that nuclear technology and materials made available through the pact will not be diverted to military purposes.

In recent years, Japan has concluded a series of civilian nuclear cooperation pacts with such countries as Vietnam, Jordan and Turkey in an effort to export its nuclear power plant technology and equipment. But the latest deal with India carries different ramifications. It marks a deviation from Japan's emphasis on the NPT regime as the international framework for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, which is already threatened by North Korea's repeated nuclear weapons tests.