India, Japan close to agreement on civil nuclear deal

New Delhi, Dec 2: India and Japan are “close to agreement” on a civil nuclear deal and are also in discussions on boosting their business and people-to-people ties, a Japanese official said as Emperor Akihito held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Monday.

Sakutaro Tanino, press secretary to the emperor and a former envoy to India, said the two countries are in negotiations on peaceful use of nuclear energy and are “close to agreement” on a civil nuclear deal.

He stressed India and Japan share the view for ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.

Japan’s concerns over nuclear energy stem from the radioactive leakage from its Fukushima plant that had to be shut down following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Japan has been importing fossil fuel for its energy needs. During talks between Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, renewable energy resources were discussed, Tanino said.

During their closed door meeting here, both sides touched upon their close and warm bilateral relations and discussed a wide range of issues, including their business ties, he said.

Besides the Japanese emperor and Manmohan Singh, the “small group meeting” was attended by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia, while from the Japanese side former prime minister Yoshiro Mori was present.

The meeting, scheduled for 45 minutes, was marked by “shared intimacy” and “shared chemistry”, at the Hyderabad House.

Both Manmohan Singh and Emperor Akihito talked about the changes in India in the past 53 years and the changes in India-Japan ties, said Tanino.

The Delhi Metro and Maruti Suzuki were mentioned as high points of their close ties.

Manmohan Singh thanked Japan for its Official Development Assistance, especially for the Delhi Metro project, Tanino said.

Japan also expressed gratitude for the prompt Indian help rendered in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, he said.

Japan is keen to attract more Indian students to its universities and is introducing teaching in English language to overcome the language barrier, he said.

The prime minister and the emperor talked about bilateral relations, their very active business relations, and exchanged political and business news, said Tanino.

The emperor’s press secretary reiterated that the imperial visit was “not intended to put a check on China”.

IANS