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Friday, 22nd October 2010
In General Japan News,

Japan's earth minerals 'running out'

The Japanese government has announced that the country's supplies of rare earth minerals could run out by March or April.

Yoshikatsu Nakayama, vice-minister of the economy, trade and industry, explained without further imported supplies, Japan could face a lack of the vital components.

"With recycling, imports from sources other than China, and cooperation among (Japanese) companies, it (the existing stock) seems to last until March or April," said Mr Nakayama, reports Jiji Press.

There is no official export ban from China but the Japanese companies importing the materials have all reported incidents of severe shortages and disruptions to supplies.

It is estimated that China controls around 95 per cent of the global rare earth minerals market.

Meanwhile, Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force is planning to add six submarines over the next four years – bringing the fleet total to 22. According to Kyodo News, the expansion could be a result on ongoing naval disputes with China.

Written by Mark Smith.