Tokyo said today that India has agreed it would provide a stable supply of rare earth minerals to Japan as the high-tech economy looked to diversify sources following a stand off with key provider China.
India's prime minister Manmohan Singh, winding up his three-day visit to Japan today, made the pledge during his talks with the Japanese side yesterday, industry minister Akihiro Ohata said at a news conference.
Yesterday Singh met prime minister Naoto Kan, Ohata and other Japanese officials and agreed to a broad cooperation in rare earth deals.
The deal assumes significance as shipments of rare-earth metals to Japan have been blocked by Chinese customs since 21 September, following the arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain by Japan near disputed islands in the East China Sea. Though the captain has since been released tensions still continue to run high between the two countries. (Also see: China-Japan territorial stand off hits rare earths imports into Japan)
Till now Japan has been sourcing 90 per cent of its rare earths requirements from China.
In his address at a business luncheon Singh said India and Japan were natural partners because of their shared values of freedom democracy, respect for rule of law and free market economy. According to analysts it was Singh's way of saying that business could be conducted hassle free with India rather than others.