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Vietnam, Japan open 'historic page': Kan

Japan ex-PM Abe visits Taiwan president, martyrs' shrine
Taipei (AFP) Oct 31, 2010 - Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe met Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou on Sunday on a trip that may compound the spat between Tokyo and Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Abe met Ma on Sunday evening after arriving on the inaugural flight of a new route between Haneda airport in Tokyo and Sungshan airport in Taipei, officials said. But it was not clear whether the talks would touch on the island chain in the East China Sea claimed by China, Taiwan and Japan. In a surprise move, the conservative Japanese politician paid tribute at a martyrs' shrine in Taipei which commemorates hundreds of thousands of Kuomintang soldiers killed during World War II.

Abe also visited former President Lee Teng-hui, a vocal critic of China who tried to promote a separate identity for Taiwan during his 1988-2000 term, and who angered China in 2008 by saying the disputed islands were "a territory of Japan". In the United States this month, Abe irked Beijing by using the German Nazi-era term "lebensraum", or "living space", to describe China's growing assertiveness over disputed territories. Beijing and Tokyo have been embroiled in a bruising diplomatic row since early September, when Japan arrested the captain of a Chinese fishing trawler near the islets known in Japan as Senkaku, in Taiwan as Tiaoyutai and as Diaoyu in China. The islands lie in an area that has rich fishing grounds and is believed to contain oil and natural gas reserves. Tokyo recognises Beijing rather than Taipei, but has maintained close economic ties with the island.
by Staff Writers
Hanoi (AFP) Oct 31, 2010
Vietnam and Japan opened a "historic page" Sunday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said, after agreements to cooperate on rare earth minerals and a nuclear power plant.

After talks between Kan and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung they said that Vietnam will help to supply Japan with rare earth minerals used in high-tech products.

Japan is looking to diversify its supply of the minerals after a spat with key provider China.

"Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced that Vietnam has decided to have Japan as a partner for exploration, mining, development, and separation and production of rare earth minerals in the country," they said in a joint statement.

Japan has said shipments of rare earths from China were blocked during a diplomatic row sparked by the arrest of a Chinese trawlerman in disputed waters.

Japan's stockpile of the minerals could be exhausted by March or April without fresh imports from China, officials have said.

China, which controls more than 95 percent of the global market, has repeatedly denied it curbed exports in retaliation over the dispute, but all 31 Japanese companies handling the minerals have reported disruption to shipments.

Rare earths -- a group of 17 elements -- are used in products ranging from flat-screen televisions to lasers and hybrid cars.

Tokyo said last week that India has agreed to provide a stable supply of rare earth minerals to Japan.

A Japanese government official said after Sunday's talks that Japan believes it will win exploitation rights for rare earth minerals in Vietnam's northwestern Lai Chau province.

Vietnam and Japan will also join forces to build a nuclear power station in the Southeast Asian nation, the leaders said.

"Vietnam confirms that the Vietnamese government chooses Japan as a cooperation partner to build two nuclear reactors", their joint statement said.

The move makes it highly likely that Japanese companies will get the contract, a senior Japanese official said.

It would be Vietnam's second nuclear pact.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is also on a visit to Vietnam, on Sunday witnessed the signing of a deal, worth an estimated 5.6 billion dollars, for energy-hungry Vietnam's first nuclear power station.

Vietnam wants to build eight nuclear facilities in the next two decades. Initial government plans call for four reactors, with a total capacity of 4,000 megawatts and at least one of them operational from 2020.

Kan told reporters that the nuclear and rare earths cooperation will lead to even closer ties between the two countries.

"I believe, through this summit, that a historic page opened between Japan and Vietnam," Kan said.

A Japanese government official confirmed that Japan is Vietnam's largest bilateral donor, giving a record 155 billion yen (1.9 billion dollars) in the year to March.

earlier related report
Vietnam to help Japan on rare earths: joint statement
Hanoi (AFP) Oct 31, 2010 - Vietnam will help to supply Japan with rare earth minerals used in high-tech products, leaders of the two countries said Sunday, as Japan looks to diversify supply after a spat with key provider China.

"Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung announced that Vietnam has decided to have Japan as a partner for exploration, mining, development, and separation and production of rare earth minerals in the country," the Vietnamese leader and Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a joint statement after talks.

Japan has said shipments of rare earths from China were blocked during a diplomatic row sparked by the arrest of a Chinese trawlerman in disputed waters.

Japan's stockpile of the minerals could be exhausted by March or April without fresh imports from China, officials have said.

China, which controls more than 95 percent of the global market, has repeatedly denied it curbed exports in retaliation over the dispute, but all 31 Japanese companies handling the minerals have reported disruption to shipments.

Rare earths -- a group of 17 elements -- are used in products ranging from flat-screen televisions to lasers and hybrid cars.

Tokyo said last week that India has agreed to provide a stable supply of rare earth minerals to Japan, and Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Wednesday that his country and the United States will cooperate to diversify the sources of rare earth imports.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday received "assurances" from her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on China's policy toward exports of rare earth minerals, a US official said.

A White House spokesman said earlier that the US was checking to see whether China was cutting off rare earths exports to US companies but had not reached a conclusion.

China recently denied a report in The New York Times that it had halted some rare earth shipments to the United States in response to a US probe into alleged Chinese subsidies for its green technology sector.



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