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Japan Considers Its Options After U.S. Ban On Russian Oil

Japan is considering its options about Russian oil after the United States banned on Tuesday U.S. imports of energy from Russia, including oil, coal, and LNG.

Japan has been in close coordination with the Western allies regarding sanctions against Russia over Putin's invasion of Ukraine, but it has not yet decided whether it would ban imports of Russian oil.

"We'd like to work together with (other) Group of Seven nations and the international community to handle the matter, while considering a stable energy supply and security as the best interests of Japan," Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday, as carried by Jiji Press.

"While cooperating with the international community including our G-7 partners, we'll consider and take effective action in an appropriate manner," chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference.

In 2021, Russia accounted for around 4 percent of Japanese crude oil imports, and 9 percent of its LNG imports.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian energy without the participation of European allies.

"We recognize that not all of our Allies and partners are currently in a position to join us," the White House said, announcing the ban.

The UK, for its part, said on Tuesday that it would "phase out imports of Russian oil in response to Vladimir Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine by the end of the year."

Russian imports account for 8 percent of total UK oil demand, with the highest share in diesel, the UK government said.

Masakazu Tokura, the chairman of Japan's biggest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation, said earlier this week it would be difficult to replace Russian crude oil immediately.

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On Tuesday, Japan ratcheted up sanctions against officials in Russia and Belarus, and banned exports of oil refinery equipment to Russia.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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