TOP INTERVIEW: Japan’s Leading Rare Earths Expert

May 10, 2022|Rare Earth Elements

Japan NRG sat down with KAWASAKI Yutaka, President of K.K. Planet, to discuss the backbone of the clean energy revolution – raw materials. He discussed the missing links between stated carbon neutrality goals and realities, especially with respect to rare earth metals supply. Kawasaki is a pioneer of rare earths trading in Japan and provides expert views to state-backed Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation.


The lockdown really hit supply of cerium and lithium metals and also magnesium, all of which are classified as dangerous goods, and need to be exported specifically out of Shanghai. Cerium and lithium metals affect nickel metal hydride and other battery supply chains. Presently, battery component makers appear to be coping by tapping into their stockpiles. But these are limited and we may see the impact [from lockdowns] soon.

Trading houses do not keep stocks of dangerous materials. Substitute supplies are not easy to find as they are not produced in India or Vietnam. The good news is, there are soft signs of Shanghai authorities moving to relax the lockdown. Yesterday, our supplier told us they will start moving warehouse supplies for loading. Maybe the end of the crisis is near.

Learning from this experience, Japanese consumers will increase metal stocks. Still, these stocks are not easy to manage as they oxidize and their properties degrade. You cannot keep them for over a year.

The full deep-dive analysis texts are available in the Japan NRG Weekly report. You need to be a member to access the reports. Please see the Subscription page for details or email

Already a member? Please use your login details to access the Japan NRG Archive.