Japan to continue Iran oil purchase: envoy

Japan has been one of the eight countries that have been exempted from the US sanctions to be able to buy energy from Iran. Tokyo says it’s willing to import Iranian crude but needs an extension of its waiver.

20 February 2019
ID : 11840
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Japan has been one of the eight countries that have been exempted from the US sanctions to be able to buy energy from Iran. Tokyo says it’s willing to import Iranian crude but needs an extension of its waiver.

Japanese Ambassador to Iran Mitsugu Saito, dressed in traditional Japanese clothes, drinks tea in his office in Tehran while being interviewed by Hamshahri reporter Amin Khorrami early February. (Photo: Hamshahri newpaper, Amir Rostami)

Japan will continue buying Iranian oil, Japanese ambassador said in an interview, days after a refiner from the East Asian country loaded its first cargo of Iran crude.

“I clearly reiterate that Japan intents to keep buying oil from Iran,” said Japanese Ambassador to Iran Mitsugu Saito in an interview with Iranian daily Hamshahri.

Japan’s JXTG Holdings will reportedly stop loading Iranian crude as early as next March unless Tokyo renovates its sanctions waiver.

"We expect the final loading [of Iranian oil] to be in early March," said Yasushi Onoda, the company's director and senior vice president of corporate planning, at an earnings press conference in Tokyo early February.

However, the Japanese envoy called this statement as “rumours”, saying “based on such rumour, some have speculated the US won’t probably extend Japan’s 180-day waiver.”

Saito went on to stress that “Japanese government’s policy to guarantee the vessel’s insurance hasn’t changed,” calling the reportes “baseless”.

Late January, Japanese refiner Fuji Oil Co lifted Iranian crude oil in the first cargo to head for the Asian country since Tokyo received a waiver from US sanctions on Tehran.

The Japanese ambassador to Tehran stressed that his country could leave Iran and stop purchasing Iranian crude when the US reimposed unilateral sanctions. “Many companies, which I don’t want to name, left Iran but Japanese firms remained,” Mitsugu Saito told the Iranian newspaper. 

He tried to hammer home the message that East Asian nation doesn’t consider Iran as an energy source, adding that “Japanese tradesmen and women have devised long-term plans for commerce with Iran.”

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