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Research Report


Michael Mazza
Dan Blumenthal
Gary J. Schmitt
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2013
Pages: 25
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-3)

    Japan continues to grapple with a challenge that has befuddled it since the early days of its rise as an industrial power: it suffers from a scarcity of the natural resources most critical to its economic well-being and national security. This is especially troubling now compared to recent decades as power dynamics across the Eurasian landmass are in flux, with China, Russia, Iran, and others flexing their muscles or otherwise acting in ways not conducive to a stable international environment. The confluence of these economic and security concerns could prove troublesome for Asia and the United States.

    Asia’s Evolving Security...

  2. (pp. 4-10)

    In September 2010, China engaged in an act of economic intimidation by drastically reducing its export of REEs to Japan. Carried out in the wake of an ongoing dispute with Tokyo over the Japanese Coast Guard’s arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain who had rammed one of Japan’s coast guard vessels, Chinese monthly rare-earth exports to Japan dropped from approximately 2300 metric tons in September 2010 to less than 400 in October and November before returning to normal levels in December of that year.¹

    Most concerns about China’s rise have been related to its rapid and expansive program to...

  3. (pp. 11-16)

    On March 11, 2011, a triple disaster struck Japan: earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. In some respects, the meltdown will have the most long-term effects, as it called into question the underpinning of Japan’s economy: power production. Given the ever-present memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese people’s long-held suspicion of all things nuclear, it is no surprise that the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has sparked a vigorous debate about the merits of moving away from versus sticking with nuclear power generation.

    In September 2012, then-prime minister Yoshihiko Noda approved a new national energy policy that aimed to...

  4. (pp. 17-18)

    Japan stands at a crucial juncture. The critical resource supply chains it has maintained in recent decades look increasingly problematic. In the case of REEs, Tokyo can no longer afford the economic and security ramifications of potential Chinese anti-Japanese outbursts in the future. A large share of Japan’s energy supplies, meanwhile, comes from a region of the world in which stability is a scarce commodity. If Japan works hand-in-hand with the United States, however, it is well within Japan’s capability to address these vulnerabilities.

    To boost its supply-chain security, Japan should first and foremost continue doing what it has been...