November 9, 2010 / 3:34 AM / 9 years ago

Japan, U.S. to discuss rare earths at APEC summit

TOKYO, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Japan and the United States will hold talks on securing resources including rare earth minerals when their leaders meet this week at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the top Japanese government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Production of rare earths, used in range of high-tech devices, is dominated by China, which has said it will keep strict controls on their trade despite pressure from the United States and Japan to loosen export constraints.

“The Japanese and U.S. foreign ministers have agreed that the two nations need to hold economic talks on issues including rare earth minerals,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku told a news conference.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and President Barack Obama will meet on Saturday on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

“Of course the issue of how to diversify the procurement of rare earth minerals and other resources such as oil will be discussed with the United States as well as with other countries,” Sengoku said.

Chinese customs officials have imposed broad shipment restrictions on rare earth exports to Japan since a spat over a Chinese fishing boat captain who was arrested after his trawler collided with Japanese patrol boats near disputed islands in the East China Sea in September. He was later released and sent home.

The incident followed China’s announcement in July that it would slash its export quota by 40 percent for rare earths.

China, which accounts for 97 percent of the global output of rare earths metals, also halted shipment of the metals to Europe in October. It denies imposing any embargo, however.

Washington has called restrictions on the minerals a potential threat to the U.S. economy and national security. (Reporting by Chikako Mogi, Rie Ishiguro and Chisa Fujioka; Editing by Michael Watson)

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