PM goes to Tokyo

With one eye firmly on China, PM Manmohan Singh left for Japan on what is probaly the most significant attempt to emphasise and implement its Look East policy. In what was a clear giveaway, moments before his departure, Singh said China blocking export to Japan of rare earth metals, which is crucial for Japan’s hightech industry, was an opportunity for other countries to cooperate in this field with Tokyo. Japan believes that China might be deliberately preventing such exports as ties between the two countries have hit rock-bottom owing to the crisis triggered by the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain by Japanese authorities near a disputed island in the East China Sea. “This should be added incentive for many countries which have a potential to produce rare earths to take advantage of that opportunity,” Singh told a group of Japanese journalists. China currently controls almost 90% of the rare earth global trade. India is among the top five producers of rare earth metals. According to foreign policy experts, India’s efforts to cement a strategic relationship with Japan couldn’t have come at a better time as Tokyo is only now realising that its China policy is in a shambles. While the deal for civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries will not be signed during the visit, Singh said it would be a “win-win” deal once it is finalised. He said India is committed to maintaining a “unilateral and voluntary” moratorium on explosive nuclear testing and has “no intention” of revising that commitment. The two sides are expected to announce the conclusion of talks for Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA.

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