Current Institutional Affiliation

Award Information

Abe Fellowship for Journalists 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Freelance Journalist, CNN
Rare Earth Supply Security in a Post-Blockade World: How Environmental Concerns May Shape Future Developments

In September 2010, following a shipping incident in disputed waters, China reportedly cut off shipments of rare earth minerals to Japan, setting off a period of price speculation and uncertainty that have pulled long-inactive players back into the market for the first time in a decade, thus breaking China's near-monopoly of supply. This project aims to explore various aspects of this changed landscape through the prisms of two key players: the Lynas facility in Malaysia, and Hitachi in Japan. How has Malaysia's historical experience with rare earth mining affected its political climate today? How does a democratic society negotiate the environmental sacrifices it is willing to make in pursuit of industrial development? And in Japan, an industry leader finds itself at a crossroads: approaching the expiration of its revolutionary patent, how is Hitachi navigating a landscape in which Chinese firms are quickly closing the technological gap? How will 'green' technology industries be affected by anticipated increases in the prices of certain strategic rare earths? How is Japanese industry working to accumulate reserves that will insulate it from future rare earth supply shortages?