Asia's Game of Thrones
Japan and India Near Nuke Deal

The nuclear cooperation deal between Japan and India, first negotiated in November, just cleared a big hurdle in Tokyo. The Nikkei Asian Review reports:

Japan’s ruling party on Wednesday pushed a nuclear cooperation deal with India through the upper house of parliament, clearing the way for Japanese exports of materials and technology to the South Asian country.

The deal is contentious because India has not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT. […]

India stands to become the first nonsignatory to get access to Japanese nuclear tech. The governing Liberal Democratic Party accounted for most of the “aye” votes in the Diet, or parliament.

Following the approval, the government intends to revise relevant rules under the Nuclear Regulation Authority — Japan’s industry watchdog. Once India takes similar steps and the governments exchange documents, the deal will take effect, possibly by this summer.

On both economic and strategic grounds, this is a natural fit for both countries. Japan has immense nuclear expertise, but little domestic appetite for the technology after the Fukushima disaster; India is thus a natural export market. And Tokyo and New Delhi have been getting closer for several years now as they seek to balance against a rising China.

The deal’s opponents argue that Japan is tacitly endorsing India’s status as a nuclear armed-state, even though it has provisions that would void the deal if India resumes nuclear tests. But somehow, we suspect the United States—which signed its own civilian nuclear deal with India in 2008, despite India’s status outside the NPT regime—is not too upset to see China’s two most prominent regional rivals getting cozier.

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