Japan’s global rare earths quest holds lessons for the US and Europe

Mary Hui
·7-min read
Japan’s global rare earths quest holds lessons for the US and Europe

In 2010, the Japanese government had a rude wakeup call: Beijing had abruptly cut off all rare earth exports to Japan over a fishing trawler dispute. Tokyo was almost entirely dependent on China for the critical metals, and the embargo exposed this acute vulnerability. The silver lining to this incident, which sent global rare earth prices skyrocketing before they crashed down as the speculative bubble popped, is that it forced Japan to rethink its critical raw materials policy.