…apparently it was real after all.

I decided to hold off posting on the alleged ban of rare earth minerals from China to Japan, because China issued a pretty quick refutation. Hits at JSW have jumped up quite a bit in the last week and I was really not all that interested in being another frothing blogger getting worked up, and working people up, about a whole lot of nothing.

Well, it looks like there really is a ban.

Akihiro Ohata, the Japanese trade minister, said Friday that his ministry was aware that Japanese traders were complaining of a halt from China of a crucial category of minerals and that the government was investigating the matter.

The Chinese Commerce Ministry has denied that it has halted exports of the minerals, known as rare earths and used in products like wind turbines and hybrid cars. And Mr. Ohata said the Chinese Commerce Ministry had also informed Japan that it had not issued a ban on exporting the minerals.

But industry executives said that factories in China were still not shipping to Japan after Chinese customs agents blocked shipments earlier this week. (Link)

The reporters, Hiroko Tabuchi and Keith Bradsher, polled eight executives in the Chinese, Japanese, and North American rare earths industries and all said that China had indeed suspended shipments. The executives then offered this curious possible explanation:

Some theorized that the action might have been taken by Chinese customs agents, rather than as a formal trade embargo imposed by Commerce Ministry regulations, to give Beijing more negotiating room with Japan.

I don’t know, how likely does it sound to you that government officials in a totalitarian society might take the initiative to stop international trade?

There’s a ban. It started on Tuesday. It was continuing on Friday. The Chinese government has not stopped it, which means that it continues with the government’s permission.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch