The Lower House approval of the civil nuclear cooperation pact between Japan and India this week makes it certain that the pact will now take effect, given the chamber's superiority in endorsing international treaties. However, questions raised and problems pointed out over the pact — including the ambiguities over whether Japan can terminate the accord if India carries out another nuclear test — were left unaddressed as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition pushed it through the Diet. The first such pact Japan has concluded with a country outside of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime was designed to promote exports of the nation's nuclear power plant technology, but the feasibility of Japanese firms' overseas nuclear power business is increasingly in doubt.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of 48 countries including the United States, France, Russia, Britain, China and Japan, had long banned export of nuclear power plant technology to India because it was not a party to the NPT. India, which conducted nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998, is not a party to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, either. But the group changed its rules in 2008 and made it possible for member countries to export such technology to India. Japan started negotiations with India in 2010 and signed the civil nuclear cooperation pact last November.
During deliberations on the accord, the Abe administration stressed that the pact carries the most stringent conditions on transfers of civil nuclear technology among similar agreements that other countries signed with India. However, the pact does not specify conditions under which Japan can terminate the deal, whereas its similar pacts with Jordan and Vietnam include a provision that a nuclear test by those countries would constitute grounds for Tokyo to terminate the agreements. As the opposition Democratic Party has pointed out, the pact with India does not carry a provision to strictly limit the use of Japanese nuclear plant technology to nonmilitary applications.