Ohata, Locke agree to diversify rare earth supply


YOKOHAMA — Trade minister Akihiro Ohata and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke concurred Thursday that Tokyo and Washington need to diversify their sources of rare earth minerals, a Japanese government official said.

Alluding to China as the source, Ohata told Locke that imports of rare earth minerals remain stalled, and that Japan wishes to cooperate with the U.S. to broaden sources by developing substitute materials, recycling and finding new trade partners. In doing so, the reliance on China, which accounts for about 90 percent of the global output of rare earths, would be reduced.

Although not directly mentioning China, Locke indicated he shared the same concerns and said that instead of becoming overdependent on one exporting country, efforts should be made to find alternative sources, according to the official.

However, the two trade chiefs did not discuss in detail what might be the best ways to expand the supply of such resources, the official said.

Ohata also outlined his government’s basic policy on economic partnerships with other countries approved Tuesday and explained that Tokyo will start consulting with other countries regarding the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Locke welcomed Ohata’s remarks.

Women hold key

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton highlighted Thursday the importance of elevating the role of women to spur economic growth and said the United States will take up the issue when it hosts a series of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum meetings next year.

In a video message shown at a symposium in Yokohama to mark the ongoing APEC meetings, Clinton said, “We know that elevating the role of women, giving us the chance to get an education, find a job, start a business, drives economic growth and benefits not just (for) women but (for) their families and communities.

“We also know that in today’s global economy, countries with fewer gender disparities are more competitive and more successful,” she said. “I’m always thinking about this important mission we share and I look forward to continuing this discussion when the United States hosts APEC in 2011.”