Japan’s Government Aggressively Moves for Stable Rare Metals Supply

Japanese government ministers, including Prime Minister Naoto Kan, met offshore government officials and talked about resource diplomacy especially for rare metals and rare earths for October 1-3. Mr. Kan invited Mongolian Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold and presidents of Japanese private sectors to an evening at Prime Minister’s official residence on October 2. Mr. Batbold stated Mongolian government strongly expects for Japanese private sectors’ high technology and supports Japanese companies’ investment in Mongolia along the cooperative rare metal exploration project agreed in July between Japan and Mongolia.

Mr. Akihiro Ohata, Minister of Economy, Trade & Industry, bilaterally met a vice-ministerial-level official of China’s Ministry of Industry & Information Technology at APEC’s meeting held in Gifu, Japan on October 2. Mr. Ohata requested restoration of Chinese rare earth export to Japan and Chinese official answered the government makes efforts toward the solution.

Mr. Ohata also met Mr. Batbold in Tokyo on October 3 and showed intentions (1) to start EPA negotiation between Japan and Mongolia in early 2011 (2) to support development of Tavan Tolgoi coal field including related infrastructure construction (3) to send a rare earth investigation team, and (4) to support uranium resource development. As to (3), Mr. Ohata stated Japanese government plans to send a team consisted of members from JOGMEC (Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corporation) and AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology) in mid October.

Mr. Yoshiaki Takaki, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology, commented at a regular press conference on October 1 the ministry will accelerate exploration of seabed mineral resources in exclusive economic zone by budget for fiscal 2010-2011.