Japan to acquire exploration rights for deep-sea mine

Japan will acquire the exclusive exploration rights for a 3,000-square-kilometer area in the high seas some 600 kilometers off the country's easternmost territory, Minamitori Island, to retrieve rare metals such as cobalt and nickel, the industry ministry said Saturday.

It is expected that the acquisition will lead to a stable supply of rare metals, which are used for high-tech equipment, as Japan currently relies on imports mainly from China.

Tokyo's application for the exploration rights, which are valid for 15 years, was submitted in 2012 and approved by the International Seabed Authority at its meeting in Jamaica on Friday, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Minamitori Island is located 1,800 km from Tokyo and is part of Ogasawara village under the administrative jurisdiction of the capital.

Japan plans to complete the office procedures for the acquisition by the end of the current fiscal year through next March.

Industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in his comment, "While we will face many challenges, we will assess the resources content in detail and seek the possibility for developing them."