Japan’s Approach to China’s Control of Rare Earth Elements
By Cindy Hurst
Japan has been dealt a number of blows over the past few years which have put the country’s high-tech production capacity at risk. Most recently the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan in March has directly affected production efforts through rolling blackouts and damaged equipment. Another issue, and one that has been missed by public scrutiny, is the country’s struggle to obtain steady supplies of certain key materials needed to produce its high-tech products. Some of those key ingredients are rare earth elements (REEs), of which China has been cutting back export quotas. China has also reportedly announced that it was going to create a REE strategic reserve, a measure that some analysts feel will give the country more control over the industry. In an industry that is ever changing, other countries, whose economies and national security depend on technologies produced with REEs, could learn by Japan’s example.
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