May 20, 2022

The Japanese minister of economy, trade, and industry has said that his nation would face “difficulty” in immediately implementing moves to cut off Russian oil imports as part of international sanctions against Moscow.

Koichi Hagiuda made the comments during a visit to Washington, following proposals from Europe to include an embargo on crude oil in the latest round of sanctions resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hagiuda made it clear that Japan supports such a measure in principle, but stressed that his nation would have problems with making the required changes overnight.

“Given Japan has its limit on resources, we would face some difficulty to keep in step [with the proposed sanctions] immediately,” he told reporters.

Hagiuda met with Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo during his visit, with the pair putting some basic agreements in place relating to semiconductor cooperation, as well as President Biden, who promised to discuss further sanctions against Russia with fellow G7 leaders this week.

The Japanese official also met with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, with Hagiuda requesting that the US increases its liquefied natural gas output to help Japan reduce its dependence on Russia for energy supplies.

Imports from Russia accounted for 4% of Japan’s overall oil imports for the last fiscal year, along with 9% of natural gas imports and 11% of coal imports.