Japan will take time to phase out Russian oil imports. So said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in an explanation of the agreement of the leaders of the G7 countries on a ban on oil imports from Russia.
With the ban, the seven industrial powers, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, Great Britain and the United States, want to increase pressure on Moscow to end the war against Ukraine.
The US, which is not a major buyer of Russian fuels, has previously banned the import of Russian oil. However, Japan is highly dependent on Russian fuels and energy imports from other countries. Prime Minister Kishida, therefore, spoke of a tough decision for his country. “But the coordination of the G7 is now the most important,” said the prime minister. Kishida said he would take the time to take steps “towards a phase-out of Russian oil”.
According to data from research firm Refinitiv, no ships have been loaded with Russian oil for Japan since mid-April. The country imported about 1.9 million barrels of oil from Russia last month. That is a third less than in the same month a year ago.
Japan previously stated that it would be difficult to stop importing Russian oil immediately. Japan is in a difficult position regarding its energy supply as it has shut down most of its nuclear reactors since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Russia accounted for 4 percent of Japan’s total oil imports in 2021. However, the country gets most of its oil from the Middle East, which accounted for 93 percent of Japan’s oil imports last year.
Japan has already pledged to phase out Russian coal imports. Like Europe, Japan is heavily dependent on Russian gas, and a ban on that fuel is still a step too far for the time being. The Japanese government and companies have major interests in gas projects in Russia.