While China on Thursday said it has not stopped export of rare earth minerals to Japan, and the Japanese Ministry of Economy confirmed as much on Friday, trading company officials in Japan insisted export of the elements — crucial for advanced manufacturing — had indeed been halted.
"We are told that only Japan-bound shipments were suspended. The Chinese side did not give any reasons for the suspension," said an official at a major Japanese trading house.
Another trading house official also said exports to Japan were halted on Tuesday. "We don't know when the exports will resume," he said. The company officials declined to be named as they were not authorised to talk to the media.
Japan's trade minister, Akihiro Ohata, said he had "information" that China's exports to some Japanese trading houses have been stopped. But he said China's government has not informed Tokyo of such a move.