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

In 2010, the Japanese government had a rude wake-up call: Beijing had abruptly stopped all exports of rare earths to Japan because of a dispute over fishing trawlers. Tokyo was almost entirely dependent on China for the critical metals, and the embargo exposed this acute vulnerability. The silver lining for this incident, which caused global rare earth prices to skyrocket before collapsing when the speculative bubble burst, is that Japan was forced to rethink its critical commodity policies.

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