China to hurry rare earth exports to Japan

China will speed up exports of rare earth minerals to Japan, the Japanese trade minister said Saturday, following complaints from Tokyo that shipments were stalled amid a territorial row.

Trade minister Akihiro Ohata said that Zhang Ping, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, told him that he had "instructed (officials) to speed up inspections at customs to be more efficient".

Ohata was briefing reporters on the sidelines of the summit of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation nations in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

Zhang had told Ohata that China’s "tightening of control over the rare earth industry is aimed at the orderly development and sustainable use of rare earth resources," the Japanese trade minister said.

"But he understands that Japan has interest in the freight stuck at customs, and that the NDRC has already contacted relevant organisations," said Ohata, adding that the issue of restricted shipments will be resolved soon.

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China blocks rare earths exports to Japan – Electronics will suffer

China has blocked all exports of rare earths to Japan, stepping up the pressure on Tokyo to release a Chinese boat captain detained in disputed waters, a report said Thursday.

China has halted all shipments to Japan of the chemical elements, essential for the making of mp3 players, electric cars, missiles and a range of other products, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed industry sources.

Calls to China’s commerce and foreign ministries for comment on the report went unanswered.

Japan’s foreign ministry and the world’s top automaker Toyota — one of many companies that would be affected by the move — also did not answer calls.

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