Japan and South Africa on Thursday agreed to accelerate a joint rare earth exploration project in the African country in an effort to reduce Japan\'s dependence on rare earth import from China, reported local media. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Japan\'s industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi and visiting South African Mineral Recourses Minister Susan Shabangu. However, the location of the rare earth deposit was not specified by the ministry, said Japan\'s Kyodo News. The ministers also agreed to improve bilateral cooperation in environment protection and pollution control related to mining development, according to the report. The two ministers will co-chair a ministerial meeting Saturday to discuss cooperation between Japan and African countries in natural resources development, said the report.