TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio announced at a Group of Seven summit held in the early hours of Monday Japan time that his country will ban, in principle, imports of Russian oil as part of the Asian nation’s additional sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He later told reporters that the import ban will be implemented in stages in view of the measure’s possible impacts on the economy.
At the summit, held online, Kishida said that Japan is heavily dependent on other nations for energy resources. While the oil embargo will be tough for the country, it is now most crucial that the G-7 nations work as one, the prime minister also told his G-7 counterparts.
“At a time when there are concerns over the international order being shaken, the unity of the international community is important,” Kishida said to reporters at the prime minister’s office Monday morning, seeking understanding of Japan’s decision to join the initiative to ban Russian oil imports.
“We’ll phase out our imports over time in ways to minimize the measure’s negative impacts on people’s lives and business activities,” the prime minister added.
On the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 natural gas and oil projects off the Russian Far East island, in which the Japanese government and Japanese companies are involved, Kishida said, “There is no change in our policy to retain our interests.”
At a press conference on Monday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary MATSUNO Hirokazu said, “We’ve already launched efforts to switch to other nations in importing oil.”
“We’ll take all possible measures, including the diversification of suppliers and the utilization of renewable energy and nuclear power,” Matsuno also said.
On Wednesday, the European Union announced a draft plan to ban oil imports from Russia by the end of this year.
At their latest meeting, the G-7 leaders affirmed that their countries will phase out or ban the import of Russian oil.
Although Japan was initially reluctant to impose sanctions involving the energy sector due to its lack of natural resources, the Asian nation judged that it needs to get in step with the United States and Europe, in order to ramp up pressure on Russia.
Crude oil from Russia accounted for around 3.6 pct of Japan’s imports of such oil last year.
In early April, Kishida announced that Japan will reduce imports of Russian coal in stages, the country’s first sanction related to the energy field, which is one of Russia’s key industries.
In making the announcement, Kishida did not go into details about possible actions on other energy resources, only saying that the country will work on reducing its dependence on Russian energy resources, including on Russian oil.