China eyes sending mission to disaster-hit areas in Japan

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Japan tsunami
Beijing, Sep 6: China plans to send a mission soon to areas of northeastern Japan affected by the March earthquake and tsunami as part of efforts to support Japan's post-disaster reconstruction, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Fu Ziying said.

Ziying made the remarks at a meeting on Monday between senior Commerce Ministry officials and a group of Japanese business leaders in Beijing, at which the two sides agreed to advance technical cooperation in mining and recycling of rare earth minerals.

The Chinese and Japanese governments are coordinating the size of the envisaged Chinese mission, which will likely include business leaders, and the timing of a visit, according to an official of the Tokyo-based Japan-China Economic Association who attended the meeting.

Toyota Motor Corp chairman Fujio Cho, who serves as chairman of the association, indicated the association will help host the Chinese mission to Japan.

Beijing apparently seeks Japanese investment in the country in connection with the transfer of production sites from Japan to China amid the restructuring of the supply chain of industrial products and parts in the wake of the March 11 calamity.

In the meeting, Japanese business leaders asked China to ensure stable supply and price stability in rare earth elements, which are vital in the production of hybrid vehicles, mobile phones and other high-tech products.

The business leaders proposed that the two countries promote technical cooperation in preventing environmental pollution from mining rare earths. They also called for cooperation in recycling of such minerals.

Chinese officials expressed willingness to promote such technical tie-ups with Japan, and said that volatility in rare earth prices is undesirable also for China as the country is the world''s largest consumer of such minerals.

Japan relies on China for about 90 percent of its supply of rare earth minerals. Beijing supplies more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth minerals, although it has about 35 percent of global reserves.

PTI (Kyodo)

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