Japan chasing China with $32 billion African resource push

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged $32 billion to Africa earlier this month as part of a development initiative between Japan and the resource-rich continent.

Concerned about China's dominant presence in Africa, Japan is aiming to establish stronger trade ties with African nations through Abe's five-year, multi-billion-dollar plan.

Forced away from nuclear energy as a result of the Fukushima disaster, the island nation will look to secure a steady supply of African natural gas and oil, as well as rare earth metals so crucial to its high-tech economy.

At present, Japan, like all other advanced economies, is concerned about its heavy reliance on China, which accounts for roughly 95% of global rare earth output.

Rare earths metalsĀ are used to make a number of high-tech and energy-related goods like wind turbines, electric cars, drills and military equipment. They are also found in everyday items like smart phones and flat-screen TVs.

Japan is also said to have a particularly close eye on South Africa and the Congo for zirconium and cobalt, respectively.

Africa accounts for 89% of total global reserves of platinum, 60% of diamond, 53% of cobalt, 37% of zirconium and 35% of chrome.

Africa's rapid economic development is a tantalizing prospect for Japanese exporters, as demand for high-tech Japanese goods and machinery will continue to increase.