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Khama meets with Japanese Emperor and Prime Minister etc - O...

Tokyo - Today, the first full day of President Khama’s Official Visit to Japan, was highlighted by meetings between His Excellency and His Imperial Majesty the Emperor Akihito and the Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Naoto Kan.

The President was given the rare honour of an audience with the world’s last reigning Emperor this afternoon at the Imperial Palace. The occasion was the symbolic highlight of an eventful day that was otherwise largely taken up by a series of bilateral meetings culminating in Official Talks between President Khama and Prime Minister Kan, who were joined on each side by accompanying Ministers and Senior Officials responsible for economics, trade, industry, communications and executive and external affairs.

In welcoming the Botswana delegation, Prime Minister Kan expressed his government’s appreciation for Botswana’s record of political stability and economic growth, further emphasising Japan’s desire to enhance bilateral relations through business to business as well as government to government contacts. He further pledged his support for Botswana’s robust economic development.

For his part President Khama expressed his own appreciation for the friendship and support that the Japanese have extended to Botswana since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1966, going on to cite various examples of Japanese institutional partnership, such as the ongoing collaboration with the Botswana Geological Remote Sensing Centre in Lobatse in the systematic search for new mineral prospects.

Additional areas of discussion included potential cooperation in transportation, broadcasting, business promotion, and reform of multilateral institutions. With respect to the latter, the Prime Minister welcomed Botswana’s steadfast support for Japan’s bid to secure a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.

The Prime Minister further expressed his view that while Asia had been a centre of rapid growth in recent decades, he believed that Southern and Central Africa would become the location of the next wave of rapid economic expansion.

Prior to his meeting with Prime Minister Kan, President Khama held separate meetings with high powered business delegations from the “Keizai Doyukai” (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) and “Keidanren” (Japanese Business Federation), who will both be represented at tomorrow’s Botswana Investment Roundtable, which will be hosted at the Keidanren’s Tokyo headquarters.       

The Keizai Doyukai delegation was led by the Chairman of its Africa-Japan Relations Committee, Mr. Mamoru Sekiyama. The Association is made up of approximately 1300 of the country’s top business executives who participate as individuals, while the Keidanren has an institutional membership comprised of large Japanese Corporations.

At their meeting Mr. Sekiyama expressed interest in knowing what underpinned Botswana’s sustained record of good governance, which in response President Khama attributed to a culture of consultation, tolerance and respect for the rights of others rooted in the tradition of the kgotla and reinforced by more modern institutions.

During the discussions further interest was expressed in Botswana’s diversification drive, with specific reference to developments in the minerals sector, the Kazungula bridge project and human resource development.

The President noted that while Botswana has long been burdened by its landlocked status it was now trying to convert this disadvantage into an advantage by investing in infrastructure that would allow the country to take full advantage of its central location as a regional transport hub.

The Keidanren delegation was led by the Chairman of its Committee on Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Dobashi who has recently visited Botswana and will be chairing tomorrow’s Roundtable. 

Earlier in the day Khama took time to meet with three Batswana students studying on Japan – Mr. Ame Selepeng, Mr. Tirelo Moepswa and Ms. Itumeleng Seitshiro, who are all doing post-graduate studies in mining related subjects at Akiti University in northern Japan.

This evening members of the Botswana Delegation, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Hon. Phandu Skelemani, and the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Hon. Dorcus Makgato-Malesu, were hosted to a dinner organised by the Japanese public broadcaster NHK. During the event the two Ministers joined the Deputy Permanent Secretary responsible for Government Communications, Dr. Jeff Ramsay, in expressing their particular appreciation for NHK’s commitment to support the development of education television programming in Botswana.
During the day the two Ministers also held bilateral meetings with their Japanese counterparts, as well as the President of the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals Corporation (JOGMEC), Mr. Hirobumi Kawano, who will also be attending tomorrow’s investment Roundtable. JOGMEC is especially interested in the prospect of uncovering commercially viable quantities of rare earth metals (see attached article) in Botswana.

Tomorrow, President Khama will have an early morning meeting with the former Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Yukio Hatoyama, who remains an influential member of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Madame Sadako Ogata, and will conduct a series of interviews with major Japanese media. Japan’s leading business publication, Nikkei Shinbun will also be briefed by Minister Makgato-Malesu.

[Tomorrow’s round of anticipated media events follows 15/10/10 press briefing for Japanese media by DPS Gov. Comm. at Botswana Embassy]    

The President will also host a luncheon for a number of Japanese parliamentarians, some of whom will also be meeting with the Member of Parliament for Francistown West, the Hon. Tshelang Masisi, where they are expected to discuss ongoing efforts to revive the inter-parliamentary Botswana-Japan Friendship League.

Later on Tuesday afternoon President Khama will address a high level Investment Roundtable that has been organised with the Keidanren/ Japanese Business Federation under the theme: “Investing in Botswana – Japan’s Gateway to SADC.”

Both the President and the Minister of Trade and Industry will address the Roundtable. Also prominently participating in the event will be the Chief Executive Officer of BEDIA, Mr. Jacob Nkate.

Botswana’s presence in Tokyo is being further highlighted throughout this week by a series of cultural events and exhibitions culminating in tomorrow nights gala Botswana Music and Dance Night at the Akasaka Civic Centre in Central Tokyo. The evening’s entertainment will feature the sounds of Banjo Mosele & the Veterans band and the Dipela tsa ga Kobokwe cultural troupe, as well as very special guest performance by leading Japanese musician.

The Dipela tsa ga Kobokwe troupe from Molepolole is also being featured at the Botswana Art and Diamond Exhibition, which will be running from the 17-21 of October at the Oazo Marunouchi centre, while Banjo Mosele’s band has been appearing this week at the Calabash, Tokyo’s leading ‘African’ nightspot.

Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1966, Botswana and Japan have developed a strong bilateral relationship based on mutual respect, which has been manifested in cooperation over the years in such areas as economic development and trade, cultural exchange, and Japanese support in such areas as Education, Health and Transport and Communications.

While this is President Khama’s first visit to Japan as Head of State, previously visited the country while Vice President. Former Presidents Sir Ketumile Masire and Fetus Mogae also each visited Japan on multiple occasions as Heads of State, underscoring the close bilateral bonds that have been cultivated over the years.

2)    President Khama arrives in Japan

(Tokyo) - H.E. the President, Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama, arrived aboard OK 1 at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport last night (Sunday 17/10/10) to begin his four day Official Visit (17-20 October) to Japan.

At the airport he was greeted by the Ambassador of Japan to Botswana H.E. Ryoichi Matsuyama and other Japanese officials.

Also on hand to greet His Excellency at the airport were the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Hon. Phandu Skelemani, the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Hon. Dorcas Makgato-Malesu, and the Member of Parliament for Francistown West, the Hon. Mr. Tshelang Masisi, and Botswana’s Ambassador designate to Japan Mr. Pulaentle Kenosi, as well as senior Botswana officials.

NB: Non-Ceremonial nature of the arrival was due the ceremonial welcoming being reserved for today’s meeting between His Excellency the President and His Imperial Majesty the Emperor

Also FYI - Re: Rare Earther Metals

"Heavy Metal" in Prospect Magazine November 2009 by Robin Powell  

Cast your eyes down to the lower reaches of the periodic table, and you find a row of exotic-sounding elements that you probably never got to in chemistry lessons. Here lie 17 elements known as rare earth metals, a group consisting of lanthanides (atomic numbers 57-71), scandium (21) and yttrium (39)—the latter owing its name to the similarly unpronounceable Swedish town where it was discovered in the late 18th century. Yet rare elements are not quite as unusual as their names might suggest. In fact, they are everywhere: in your mobile phone, hard disk drive, iPod headphones, plasma television, and hundreds of other electronic and industrial products. And now their supply is under threat.

Global demand for these metals has more than doubled over the past decade, as ever more devices make use of their unique properties. Rare earth phosphors in your television screen make the colours bright, while super-strong rare earth magnets allow electric motors to be compact enough to fit in a car, and headphones small enough to fit in your ear. Japan manufactures many of these goods and is the world’s biggest importer of the metals. The car giant Toyota aims to sell around 1m hybrid cars a year from 2010—a huge jump if you consider that it has sold 2m hybrids in total since 1997. With several kilograms of rare earth metals in each hybrid car, Toyota, Honda and other car-makers will have to stock up to avoid bottlenecks.

The problem is that there is only one seller: China, with 95 per cent of the world’s supply. Not only does China dominate the production of rare earths, it also leads the field in extraction. That means, for example, that when Japan buys rare earth minerals from countries other than China, it still has to pay Chinese factories to extract the pure metal. All of this wouldn’t be an issue if China was keen to sell. But, increasingly, it isn’t. Beijing has cut export quotas steadily, from 48,500 tonnes in 2004 to 31,310 tonnes in 2009. And in August, China proposed capping rare earth exports at 35,000 tonnes for each of the next six years; barely enough to satisfy the current Japanese market, let alone the world. Even worse for companies like Toyota, China is planning to entirely phase out some forms of dysprosium, a vital component in the magnets of electric car motors. Without dysprosium, the magnets won’t work at high temperatures, meaning in  theory that your hybrid car could stop dead as you hit the motorway. Prices of the metals were rising fast before the global recession—a kilo of dysprosium hit $120 in 2007, up from $35 in 2004—and have started their rapid climb again following China’s announcement.

So what is going on? China certainly isn’t running out; it has the metals in abundance. Rather, as Shigeo Nakamura, head of the trading company Advanced Metals Japan, told me, China has a new strategy to boost its own high-tech manufacturing sector. Chinese companies stand to make handy profits by making and selling components that use the metals (like electric car motors), instead of simply selling the raw material. Such moves have already brought a chorus of corporate complaints, and the recently elected Japanese government even made securing rare metal supply a manifesto pledge. China’s response so far has been to claim that because it has such large reserves it must restrict exports, or the market would flood and global prices would fall. Unconvinced, the US and EU have already asked the WTO to investigate.

This economic gamesmanship is forcing developed countries to mimic China’s own aggressive courtship of mineral-rich African regimes: Jogmec, a Japanese body charged with securing stable resources for Japan’s industry, has already struck deals with several African countries, most recently Botswana, to develop new mines. Western companies, meanwhile, are looking anew at old assets. In California, the mining company Molycorp has reopened its Mountain Pass mine, one of the world’s richest until Chinese competition put it out of business in 2002. Yet even these efforts are unlikely to head off a bout of national panic buying. Japan has an emergency stockpile of rare metals used in steel products, and plans to increase its stock of others. But such measures won’t relieve pressure on manufacturers outside China if the cost of rare earths continues to rise; they may be faced with a stark choice of hiking up their own prices, or relocating to the  People’s Republic. Senior government advisors in Britain draw a blank when asked about this scenario. Britain may not have a manufacturing sector the size of Japan’s, but the consequences of a trade monopoly in rare earths would still be disastrous.

There is no viable rare earth substitute. Other metals have been tested, but they don’t work. Scientists have had some success in reducing the amount of rare earths needed in products, but not enough. Efforts being made to reuse and recycle the many tonnes of rare earth metals currently thrown away (in discarded mobile phones, hard drives, and so on) are unlikely to make a difference on their own. Even if any of these initiatives do eventually succeed, new mines still take years to build, and new scientific techniques take just as long to be adapted for commercial use. China’s former leader Deng Xiaoping once noted that “while the middle east has its oil, China has rare earths.” His words may be even more prescient than he realised.

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