Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's week-long East Asian tour beginning today will see him meet top world leaders, but the visit is unlikely to fructify in the signing of two crucial pacts with Japan.
Singh embarks on an important East Asian mission that will take him to Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi, in pursuit of India's 'Look East' policy. The prime minister will meet powerful leaders in the Vietnamese capital, both at the India-Asian and East Asia summits. He returns to Delhi on October 30, in time for the visit by US President Barack Obama on 5 November.
The Japan leg of the visit is likely to prove the most disappointing, as the hosts are still not ready for the two premiers to sign the much-awaited Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which could have boosted bilateral trade between the two nations.
According to Nirupama Rao, India's foreign secretary, Japan has yet not completed the internal processes relating to the pact and have sought more time for its implementation.
The CEPA proposal was initiated in 2007, but political instability in Japan – with the frequent change of governments – and its continuing obsession with its big neighbour, China, have resulted in delays in inking the pact.
Likewise, India is disappointed that Japan is not yet willing to sign the civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the country and has sought more time. The fact that India is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) makes it hard for any Japanese government to sell the cooperation agreement domestically.