Japan’s industry minister said this week that the Japanese government is planning to phase out Russian oil, months after the United States and some European Union countries announced plans to sanction Russian energy.
Speaking to reporters at a press briefing, Koichi Hagiuda said that Japan will implement sanctions “in a way that minimizes adverse effects on people’s lives and business activities.” The sanctions are also expected to be phased in over an unspecified period of time.
“We will think about specific methods and timing for reducing or suspending oil imports, taking into account the actual situation,” the minister said.
It comes after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced on Monday that Japan plans to phase out imports of Russian oil.
ENEOS and Idemitsu Kosan, the two biggest refiners in Japan, announced this month that they would not sign new crude oil import contracts with Russia. Idemitsu said that the decision was made over the uncertainty of whether payments can be made, and whether they can rely on the crude oil to be delivered on time owing to logistics problems. ENEOS, however, specifically condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Why Japan Can’t Sanction Too Much
While the United States and NATO countries that have sanctioned Russian oil now face rising fuel costs, Japan faces an even more problematic fate if all Russian energy imports are blocked this year. Japan relies heavily on fuel imports to meet its energy needs, taking 9% of its liquefied natural gas imports from Russia and 11% of its coal.
There are also four separate energy projects in Russia that the Japanese government, or private Japanese businesses, have stakes in
To help alleviate its energy troubles, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has already pledged to use many of its nuclear reactors to supply more of its energy needs. Ever since the 2011 FUKUSHIMA nuclear meltdown, Japan has not relied as heavily on nuclear energy as it once did.
For the time being, however, Japan can phase out Russian crude oil thanks to the fact that just 4% of its total oil imports come from Russia. In April, Japan imported 2.1 million barrels of oil from Russia, a 45% reduction over the month before.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.