Japan says China still blocking rare earth exports

Shipments of valuable rare earth minerals from China to Japan still appear to be on hold.

Seoul: Shipments of valuable rare earth
minerals from China to Japan still appear to be on hold,
Japanese officials said on 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.

Japanese deputy cabinet secretary Noriyuki Shikata
warned today that "Chinese companies could suffer as a result
-- we are exporting some of those parts or materials (made
with rare earths) to China".

"It`s in the interests of the Chinese side" to resume
shipments, he said.

Japan is in talks with "many candidate countries" over
alternative rare earth supplies, Shikata said, including
India, Vietnam, Mongolia and Botswana, while private-sector
deals are already in place with Australian firms.

Rocky relations between China and Japan led to the
cancellation of a planned meeting between the two countries`
premiers at a Southeast Asian summit last month.

There are no plans for their leaders to hold bilateral
meetings at the G20 or at an Asia-Pacific economic summit in
Yokohama this weekend, officials in each country have said.