Business

Japan energy panel calls for national effort to secure oil and rare metal reserves

Reuters

A government energy panel called on Wednesday for the strengthening of a national reserve plan that ensures the availability of oil and rare metals amid increased global competition.

Resource-poor Japan faces an increasing risk of supply disruptions as it buys 90 percent of its oil from the Middle East, where geopolitical tensions are rising. It is also competing with other countries to secure liquefied natural gas (LNG) and critical metals used in batteries and other high-tech products as demand for these resources is rapidly growing.

The panel’s recommendations will feed into a new resource strategy to be mapped out by the industry ministry next year.

They include reinforcing the national reserve plan to secure 34 kinds of rare metals in order to better meet the latest industrial demand, as China becomes a more dominant producer of such materials. That poses risks as China could suddenly reduce or ban exports as it did in 2010 and 2011. The panel did not give details of how the effort could be reinforced.

Other recommendations include the need to enhance coordination between Japanese ministries to help improve national energy and resource security. It has also been suggested that the state-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC) should be allowed to raise funds for new development projects.

The panel also urged the government to bring its resource policy in line with the nation’s efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions, amid growing pressure to move away from fossil fuels and turn to cleaner energy.

The industry ministry plans to draw up the new resource strategy next year, which will replace the previous one set out in 2012. The timing and details have yet to be decided, an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.