Event ReportsPublished on Feb 16, 2010
Amb. Hiroshi Hirabayashi, former Japan's Ambassador to India and currently President, The Japan-India Association, was in ORF for an interactive session
Futile to expect India to sign NPT, says former Japanese diplomat
India would not sign the NPT and it is futile to persuade India to sign the treaty, said Amb. Hiroshi Hirabayashi, former Japan’s Ambassador to India and currently President, The Japan-India Association, during an interactive session with ORF research faculty at ORF campus on Tuesday, 16 February, 2010.  

However, the CTBT is a different issue, Mr. Hirabayashi said, noting that India still has reservations in signing the treaty. India may take the lead in giving a clear message if Beijing and Washington were to ratify the treaty, New Delhi is ready to be a party to the CTBT in that case, the former Japanese Ambassador said and added that such a message would also have a huge impact on the Japanese mindset towards nuclear cooperation between the two countries.  

India-Japan relations on right track

India-Japan relations have come a long way since India’s nuclear tests in 1998 and it is now in the right direction, Amb. Hirabayashi said. Japan and India entered into “global and strategic partnership” on realizing that they had reached the stage of assuming global roles. He noted that the time has come for the implementation of the Partnership. Political changes in both countries have not affected the cordial relationship between the two countries and governments in Tokyo and New Delhi have shown keen interest in taking the relationship to a higher level, he pointed out.

Amb.Hirabayashi pointed out that the principle of non-proliferation is strongly embedded in Japan’s foreign policy and it seems difficult that there could be a possibility of cooperation in both the civil and military nuclear fields between the two countries because India is not a signatory to the NPT. The nuclear cooperation with India is not high on the agenda of the current government in Japan as there are other priorities such as the US marine base issue, he informed. 

The economic cooperation between the two countries has made big headways in various sectors. A major Japanese firm, the Toshiba Corporation has set up its company in Chennai and the two countries are developing mega projects including the Delhi-Mumbai fright corridor. He said there are today around 630 Japanese companies in India that include heavy industries down to small electrical alliances. Amb. Haribayashi said that India is a huge market and despite competition from countries such as South Korea, companies from Japan think they have their own share in India.

Amb. Hirabayashi said that the most promising area of cooperation in the security field is maritime cooperation. He noted that it would be useful to exchange intelligence, experiences and also joint exercises.

US-Japan Relations

Amb. Hirabayashi pointed out that there are two schools of thought in Japan on the Japan-US alliance. The first school believes in reducing US military bases in Japan that would ultimately lessen the importance of Japan-US alliance. The other school holds that Japan needs to keep the US military bases and believes that the constitution be reviewed to enhance cooperation with the US. Amb. Hirabayashji noted that the current Hatoyama government is in a difficult position today because of the promise his government has made to find a solution to the US marine issue by May this year. There is a huge dilemma before the government on the issue, he said. 

Amb. Hirabayashi noted that there are different views on China within the ruling party. On the issue of whether Japan is putting China ahead of the US, he noted that a balancing act is necessary while dealing with China and the US. On the issues of China becoming the second largest economy beating Japan, Amb. Haribayashi said that it was a matter of time and it could happen today or tomorrow. He, however, said that is not an issue of concern as it is an irreversible of life.


Amb. Hirabayashi pointed out that Prime Minister Hatoyama’s idea of an East Asian Community (EAC) is not a new one and that the idea has been there for about a decade. He said that the EAC is still at a discussion level. The revival of the idea of EAC was a pointer of Hatoyama’s commitment to Asian countries, he noted. 

Amb. Haribayashi also said that he would like to see institutional collaboration between ORF and institutes in Japan. 

The report has been prepared by K Yhome, Associate Fellow, ORF.

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