Japan, Vietnam progress with rare earth, nuclear cooperation

Both countries make progress on plans to build two reactors in Vietnam, and note efforts to develop supplies of rare earth metals moving forward, reports say.

The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, confirmed progress was being made on their plans to build two nuclear plants in Vietnam, and their cooperation over developing supplies of rare earth metals, according to a report.

In a report by Kyodo news agency Monday, Japan's foreign ministry said this followed the two leaders' second meeting in about five months over the weekend. The meeting was held on the sidelines of a summit between Japan and the five Mekong Delta nations of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Japan had won the contracts to build the nuclear reactors in 2010. However, the news agency noted that there were concerns whether Vietnam would continue to import the country's nuclear technology after Japan suffered a nuclear crisis at Fukushima from natural disasters.

The Vietnamese prime minister Dung said he expected Japan to construct "the safest nuclear reactors using its cutting-edge technology", noted Kyodo.

On their cooperation to develop supplies of rare earth metals, the leaders said efforts would be made to continue on the progress, said the report. Japan is keen to develop supplies of the elements with Vietnam and its regional neighbors, as China controls more than 90 percent of the global supply.

In March, the European Union joined Japan and the United States in submitting an official complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) to challenge China's export restrictions on rare earth materials, which are critical components for the manufacturing of high-tech products. China, in response, had said it will deal with the dispute within the WTO's legal boundaries.