India agrees to long-term supply of rare earths for Japan

Tokyo said today that India has agreed to provide a stable supply of rare earth minerals to Japan as the high-tech economy looks to diversify sources after a spat with key provider China.

Last Updated: Oct 26, 2010, 23:16 PM IST

Tokyo: Tokyo said today that India has
agreed to provide a stable supply of rare earth minerals to
Japan as the high-tech economy looks to diversify sources
after a spat with key provider China.

India`s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who wound up
his three-day visit to Japan today, made the pledge during
talks with the Japanese side yesterday, industry minister
Akihiro Ohata said at a news conference.

"Prime Minister Singh told us that he will cooperate
in long-term supply of rare earth minerals," Ohata said,
according to a trade ministry official.

Singh met Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Ohata and other
Japanese officials yesterday and agreed to broadly cooperate
in rare earth deals.

In a statement, the premiers "decided to explore the
possibility of bilateral cooperation in development, recycling
and re-use of rare earths and rare metals and in research and
development of their industrial substitutes."

On Sunday, Ohata met China`s commerce minister in
Tokyo and urged Beijing to normalise rare earth exports after
Japan said shipments were blocked during a diplomatic row
sparked by the arrest of a Chinese trawlerman in disputed
waters.

Japan`s stockpile of rare earth minerals, used in the
manufacture of high-tech goods, could be exhausted by March or
April without fresh imports from China, officials have said.

China, which controls more than 95 per cent of the
global market, has repeatedly denied it curbed exports in
retaliation over the dispute, but all 31 Japanese companies
handling the minerals have reported disruption to shipments.

Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said today
that he wants to raise the issue if he meets his Chinese
counterpart on the sidelines of a 16-nation Asian summit in
Vietnam later this week.

-PTI