TOKYO Japan wants to boost its ability to secure natural resources, but the government was not considering an investment in Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft, Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said on Friday.
The Nikkei reported on Friday that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) was considering investing as much as 1 trillion yen ($9.7 billion) to buy 10 percent of Rosneft through the government-backed Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp, or JOGMEC.
The report came as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepared to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a business conference in Vladivostok to discuss closer cooperation in such areas as energy and technology.
Seko, the newly appointed minister for economic cooperation with Russia who will accompany Abe on the trip to Vladivostok, denied METI was considering an investment in Rosneft through JOGMEC.
He confirmed that cabinet is considering a bill to reinforce the ability of JOGMEC to secure supplies of natural resources, but said the move did not target any particular countries or deals.
Under current law, JOGMEC is able to support Japanese companies when they buy a stake in foreign mines and energy assets, but it is not able to offer support when they buy a stake in foreign resource companies and is not able to buy stakes in foreign companies itself.
The government may make it possible for JOGMEC to acquire stakes in foreign state-backed resource companies on its own, another METI official said.
The move comes at a time when some oil producing countries are trying to privatise their oil companies to offset falling revenue in the face of slumping oil prices.
(Reporting by Ami Miyazaki and Yuka Obayashi; Writing by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Richard Pullin)