In March 2020, the Japanese Government announced a new International Resource Strategy following a public consultation. The resource strategy covers oil and LNG security, critical minerals, and climate change actions.
Regarding critical minerals, a major pillar of the strategy is to reinforce the stockpiling system for 34 types of rare metals covered under the current system, which is authorised under Article III.11(xiii) of the Act on Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC). Under this law, JOGMEC has the authority to implement a national stockpiling program for metallic and other mineral products in order to maintain a stable supply of rare metals in the event of supply disruptions. In general, the specific ore types and quantities for which stockpiles are being held are undisclosed, as disclosure could have a negative impact on the market. To manage the stockpile, JOGMEC subsidises the interest required to borrow funds for the purchase of rare metals and the costs required to maintain and manage stockpile warehouses.
In the 2020 resource strategy, the government announced its intention to review how it sets target volume for stockpiles and to set the target based on national stockpiles alone - i.e. not including industry stockpiles. The target number is generally set at 60 days, but for minerals with high geopolitical risk, it could be set at a higher number "such as 180 days."
In addition to stockpiling, the resource strategy also announced an intention to strengthen bilateral and multilateral international cooperation through JOGMEC and to strengthen technology development for recycling and development of by-product materials.
The 34 minerals targeted by the stockpiling system include:
- Platinum group metals
- Rare earth elements