Japan's historic U-turn - to negotiate N-deal with India

In what can only be described as a historic decision, Japan - one of the staunchest supporters of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - has decided to jettison its opposition to nuclear deals with non-signatories of the NPT and enter into negotiations with India for sale of nuclear technology. The move will allow technology companies, such as Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd, to breathe easy and bid for the burgeoning nuclear market in India, which is the second-biggest after China.

In a statement Japan's ministry of foreign affairs said the first round of talks will be held on 28-29 June in Tokyo.

A treaty would allow Japanese companies involved in this extremely high-tech, and lucrative, sector to compete with other multi-national firms for sale of nuclear technology to India.

According to the World Nuclear Association, India plans to construct 35 new reactors in the next decade - a number that is the second biggest after China.

The decision is historic because it would be the first such agreement between Japan and a country that is a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Japan, along with China and Australia and a few other nations had opposed the waiver granted to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008.

Japanese security experts have hailed the decision as an ideal one that matches the nation's security and commercial interests.