South Africa and Japan to start Nuclear Cooperation

Japan and South agreed to cooperate in the field of Nuclear energy.

SA’s relations with Japan took a new turn last week when the two countries agreed to start negotiations on future co-operation on friendly nuclear energy that could be SA’s answer to alternative power generation and the reduction of carbon emissions.

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There was no time frame for signing an agreement, Kazuo Kodama, a spokesman for Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, said on Friday at the 10th SA-Japan Partnership Forum meeting in Pretoria. But Okada and SA’s Minister for International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane regarded the matter as urgent, Kodama said.

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The visit last week of Okada, a member of the Democratic Party that took power last year, ending the post-war domination of the Liberal Democrats, marked the centenary of official relations between SA and Japan.

Japan’s willingness to share nuclear technology with SA indicates a significant change in relations. Nkoana-Mashabane said SA was considering upscaling the stature of Japan’s diplomatic relations. This would be the fourth country the administration of President Jacob Zuma would have prioritised after the US, China and Germany since taking office.

Japan is SA’s third-largest trading partner. Exports to Japan last year were R34bn down from R66bn in 2008. Imports slowed to R26bn last year from R41bn in 2008.

Japan also expected SA to play a leading role on the continent in building the new world order, participating in the Group of 20 countries as well as the transformation of the UN Security Council . Both Japan and SA are considered to be candidates for permanent seats on the council, Okada said.

Talks between the two countries explored the potential to expand and diversify trade that for many years had focused on SA largely exporting natural resources to Japan. SA’s principal exports are base metals, heavy metals and cars, while imports from Japan are mainly cars, machinery, chemicals, earthmoving equipment and hi-tech equipment.

More background info on Japan-South Africa relations.

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