Japan remains firm on seeking U.S. exemption for Iran oil imports: top official

September 1, 2018

Japan remains firmly committed to seeking U.S. exemption for Iranian oil imports as it sees the supplies as important for the country's energy security and businesses, a top government official told S&P Global Platts on Thursday.

"Japan's position remains firm even after the second round of talks [with the U.S. government]," Ryo Minami, the director-general of oil, gas and mineral resources at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in an interview.

"Our basic principle is to seek an exemption [from the U.S.]," Minami said.

Asked whether Japan was also looking to reduce its Iranian oil imports in order to secure U.S. sanction waivers, Minami declined to comment.

Japan and the U.S. held a second round of talks on the U.S.' Iran sanctions in Washington over August 1-2, when the two sides agreed to continue bilateral discussions.

"During the second round of talks Japan clearly explained its position to continue [Iranian oil] imports to the U.S. in an effort to gain their understanding," Minami said.

"Looking forward, we will inevitably have to hold talks with the U.S. government solidly to obtain their understanding," he said. "From the Japanese perspective, we see the import of Iranian crude oil as necessary to continue Japan's energy security, as well as considering the impact on Japanese companies."

Minami's comments came as Japanese refiners have urged the government to seek a U.S. waiver on Iran sanctions as they are keen to continue importing the usual volumes instead of reducing inflows.

Japan's oil imports from Iran surged in May and June as refiners rushed to secure as many cargoes as possible before U.S. sanctions go back into force.

(Source: Platts)

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