By TATSUO ITO
TOKYO—Nearly eight months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Japan is resuming steps it hopes will lead to exports of commercial nuclear technology to India and Vietnam, even as Japan itself is scaling back the use of nuclear energy at home.
On Saturday, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and his Indian counterpart, S.M. Krishna agreed to move ahead with talks toward a civilian nuclear power agreement—a precondition that would enable Tokyo to export nuclear power plant technology to the South Asian nation.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, will likely discuss nuclear power cooperation when they meet Monday, a government official said. Japan has already signed off on talks toward a nuclear power pact with Vietnam, but the parliamentary approval needed to ratify the agreement has been put on hold.
The ruling Democratic Party of Japan had promoted nuclear technology exports as a pillar of its economic growth strategy. But the March 11 earthquake and ensuing accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant led to a suspension of negotiations with India toward accords on the transfer of nuclear energy technology and related materials for peaceful use.
The agreement with India may draw criticism, as it comes at a time when the Fukushima crisis isn’t yet resolved. Moreover, India isn’t a member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and technology, while promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
In Japan, concerns about nuclear power safety have led to many reactors being kept offline, with the resulting electricity shortage being made up for with thermal power and by reduced consumption.
“In a transparent manner, we will provide (India) with information on the cause and the research outcome of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, as well as on our efforts at ensuring safety,” Mr. Gemba said a press conference Saturday.
In an apparent attempt to discourage India from using nuclear technology for military purposes, Mr. Gemba also noted Japan’s antipathy toward such use, as the only nation to have experienced nuclear attacks.
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