In 2010, Japan imported 82% of its rare earth materials from China. This dependence was reduced to 58% in 2019, with the target of less than 50% in 2025.
But the Covid-19 outbreak has exposed another challenge: Japan’s dependence on imports of protective equipment from China. Although Japan never suffered the shortages of masks experienced in Europe, the country went through a period of tension on the supply side in the spring 2020. Between January and May, Japan imported JPY 267.84 billion (US$ 2.5 billion) of masks from China, which amounts to 93.9% of Japanese imports of masks. This makes for a 1.6 times increase from the same period in 2019. Japanese customs statistics for July 2020 show an increase by 38.2% of textile yarns from China year-on-year. During the same period, total imports from China decreased by 9.8%.