Japan’s plan to reduce dependence on China’s raw materials

Car maker Toyota is developing new vehicles without using rare earth metals (photo:dpa)
Car maker Toyota is developing new vehicles without using rare earth metals (photo:dpa)

Japan has been forced to rethink its use of rare earth elements upon which much of its industry depends, after its main source of supply, China, imposed a strict export quota. Japan’s need for the elements could also increase because of its new energy policy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan has started to find new suppliers and is thinking up innovative ways of recycling and substituting raw materials.

JAPAN is the largest importer and the second-largest consumer of rare earth elements (REEs) in the world. It uses a fifth of the world supply and in 2010 most of that - 82 per cent - came from China.

But in September 2010 that tr...

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