Japan, Kazakhstan agree on resources investment deal

TOKYO —

Japan and Kazakhstan have agreed on rules for foreign investment, officials said, as Tokyo looks to shore up minerals and energy to feed its resource-hungry industries.

“Talks on an investment accord between Japan and Kazakhstan saw a substantive agreement” in a two-day meeting in Tokyo held last week, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“Kazakhstan has abundant reserves of rare metals, rare earths, oil and natural gas, and Japanese companies have shown strong interest in advancing into the country,” it said.

The ministry said the agreement would make for a more stable legal environment and boost opportunities for exchange and trade.

Japan is heavily reliant on the Middle East for energy and on China for the rare earths used in many of its high-tech industries.

Deteriorating relations with Beijing, as the two sides are embroiled in row over a group of disputed islands, has spurred a charge to diversify Japan’s mineral supplies.

Central Asia has proved a draw for Japan and China, with both countries making overtures to the region’s governments.

Energy reserves in an area believed to be more stable than the Middle East are increasingly attractive for Japan as its fuel import bill has soared with the continued shuttering of all but two of the country’s nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the disaster at Fukushima.

(C) 2012. AFP

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