Japan seeks to release rare earths, 10 other critical items from China's grip

Nikkei -- Dec 22

Japan designated semiconductors, batteries and nine other items as strategically critical material on Tuesday, in a bid to reduce the exposure of those supply chains to China.

"This is the first step in advancing the resiliency of critical supply chains to safeguard the survival, livelihoods and economic activities of our citizens," Economic Security Minister Sanae Takaichi told reporters.

Strengthening supply chains represents one of the four planks in economic security legislation passed in May. The provisions direct the country to develop alternative supplies of important resources and products like chips and medical supplies, as well as stockpile material and find new suppliers.

Standing behind this push are risks connected to China, especially the looming potential of a Taiwan crisis.

For example, 90% of injectable antimicrobial agents sold in Japan are of the beta lactam type. However, almost all of the raw materials for beta lactam antimicrobials come from China. In 2019, Japan experienced an interruption in supplies, which forced hospitals to postpone surgeries. ...continue reading