Japan’s former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama will lead a delegation to Vietnam to discuss obtaining rare earth supplies and lobby for nuclear and rail contracts, an official in his office said.
Hatoyama will leave for Vietnam Friday, Daisuke Haga, Hatoyama’s parliamentary secretary for policy said. Nine other officials will join the trade delegation, he said. A meeting is planned with prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung on October 25 in Hanoi, said a Vietnamese National Assembly official who can’t be named because he isn’t authorised to speak to the media.
Japan is seeking alternative supplies of rare earth metals after China, which controls more than 90 percent of world supply, cut export quotas of the materials used in Toyota Motor Corp. hybrid cars as well as disk drives and batteries. prime minister Naoto Kan’s government set aside an unspecified amount of money to find new sources of the metals in a stimulus plan on October 8. Nikkei English News reported the rare earth fund may be as much as 100 billion yen ($1.2 billion).
The delegation will also be lobbying for companies led by Tokyo Electric Power Co. to be awarded a contract to build an atomic power station and for Vietnam to choose Japan’s bullet- train technology for its planned high-speed railway network, Haga said. Vietnam in August agreed to seek technical support from Japan to conduct a feasibility study for bullet trains to link major cities.