TOKYO - Japan plans to mine in Vietnam for rare earth metals used in high-tech manufacturing, officials said Friday.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung are expected to agree on the proposed deal in Hanoi later this month, a trade ministry official said.
Japanese Trade Minister Akihiro Ohata said Vietnam has a promising potential for rare earths production, and Tokyo wants to jointly work with Hanoi on the exotic metals.
Rare earths are crucial in advanced manufacturing such as computer disk drives, mobile phones and hybrid car components.
Trade Ministry official Hideyuki Wakutsu said Japan and Vietnam will set up a joint venture to mine rare earths in the Southeast Asian country. He gave no further details.
Separately, Toyota Tsusho Corp., a rare earth importer and affiliate of Toyota Motor Corp., said Friday it will team up with Vietnamese companies to mine rare earths there. Takeshi Mutsuura, a spokesman of Toyota Tsusho, said Japanese firm Sojitz Corp. will also join the project.
"We want to secure a stable supply of rare earth minerals," Mutsuura said. Toyota, the world's No. 1 automaker, has a 20 percent stake in Toyota Tsusho.
Shares in Toyota Tsusho rose 0.2 percent to 1,291 yen Friday, while those in Sojitsu were unchanged at 146 yen.