Japanese firms will once again be able to purchase rare-earth minerals from China, the world's largest supplier of elements necessary to produce modern technological goods ranging from laptop batteries to wind turbines.
Bloomberg relayed the news from Japanese-language paper Asahi, which cited sources at unnamed Japanese firms engaged in buying the minerals.
China had reportedly cut off exports to Japan after a diplomatic incident involving a collision between a Chinese fishing boat captain and a pair of Japanese Coast Guard vessels. Japan detained the captain, and China apparently retaliated by halting customs procedures for rare earth metals headed to Japanese customers.
"Rare earths are becoming a major raw material in electronics," Peter Strachan, a Perth-based analyst for independent advisory firm StockAnalysis, told Bloomberg today. "When China announced it was restricting exports, [rare earth futures] prices started to rise dramatically."
Japan is a major importer of the minerals, buying as much as 65 percent of its neighbor's exports, with auto manufacturers like Toyota, Honda and Nissan consuming the lion's share.
China has denied that it took any retaliatory action against Japanese customers – Japanese sources reported that the customs system had been locked down for the last week.
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