China lifts rare earth export ban to Japan

China has ended a de facto ban on exports to Japan of rare earth minerals, a Japanese trading firm source said on Wednesday, easing concerns about fallout from a bitter feud between Asia’s two biggest economies.

Tokyo and Beijing have been bickering over Japan’s detention of a Chinese fishing boat skipper whose trawler collided this month with two Japan Coast Guard ships near uninhabited islands in the East China Sea that both sides claim.

Japan released the skipper on Saturday but a war of words has continued as each side insists the other is to blame.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is set to attend an October 4-5 Asia-Europe summit in Brussels but it is unclear whether he will meet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao — who snubbed the Japanese leader at the United Nations last week — on the sidelines.

The islands, called the Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, are near rich fishing grounds and potentially large oil and natural gas reserves.

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