HANOI, Vietnam — Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan says Vietnam has chosen Japan as a partner to mine rare earth metals and help build the Communist country's second nuclear power plant.

Kan told reporters Sunday that Vietnam selected Japan for both projects during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, in Hanoi.

Japan earlier this month announced plans to begin mining in Vietnam for rare earth metals used in high-tech manufacturing, in a bid to reduce its dependence on China.

China has blocked rare earths shipments to Japan following a diplomatic spat between the two countries involving disputed islands in the East China Sea. (AP)>/b>