Japan says China still blocking rare earth exports

Shipments of valuable rare earth minerals from China to Japan still appear to be on hold, Japanese officials said Thursday, urging Beijing to resume exports after a diplomatic row.

"There is no noticeable progress in this regard," Hidenobu Sobashima, deputy director general at the foreign ministry, told reporters as the G20 group of rich and emerging nations opened a two-day summit in Seoul.

"We keep requesting the Chinese side for more information and more concrete results, but as far as the statistics and the facts go, there is not much progress," Sobashima said.

Tokyo has accused China of restricting shipments of rare earths — elements used in high-tech products from iPods to cars — since a September maritime incident in disputed waters sparked a bitter diplomatic row.

China, which controls 95 per cent of the global market, has denied any embargo, but a Japanese trade ministry survey in October found that all 31 companies handling rare earths in Japan had reported disruption to shipments.

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