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Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Japan plans to express its concerns about a possible embargo on Iranian crude oil to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner when he visits Tokyo next week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said.
Foreign Minister Koichi Gemba “expressed our concerns to the U.S. government in December, including our worries about the impact of a possible import ban on the Japanese and global economy,” Fujimura told reporters in Tokyo today. “We are maintaining that position.”
Japan, which imports almost all of its energy supplies, is the world’s second-biggest buyer of Iranian crude after China. The threat of sanctions and an Iranian demand that U.S. warships stay out of the Persian Gulf have stirred new tensions between Iran and the West, contributing to higher energy prices.
JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., Japan’s biggest refiner, said yesterday it’s in talks with Saudi Arabia to replace crude shipments in the event of an embargo on Iran.
Gemba yesterday left Japan to visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey for discussions on strengthening relations with countries that are of “vital importance” to Japan’s energy security, Fujimura said.
U.S. and European governments are seeking help from Asian allies including Japan to reduce oil revenues for Iran, which they say is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a claim the Iranian government denies.
European foreign ministers plan to announce more sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking industries at a meeting on Jan. 30 after Greece ended its objections to an oil embargo.
Japan is in talks with the U.S. about how to respond to measures against Iran signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 31, trade and industry minister Yukio Edano told reporters today.
“We are having discussions with the U.S. taking into considerations the international community’s stance on the nuclear issue,” he said. “We are trying our best to minimize the impact on our economy as well as the global economy.”
Obama’s measures deny access to the U.S. financial system for any overseas bank that conducts business with the Central Bank of Iran. The law includes language that allows the president to waive the sanctions if he determines they would threaten national security.
Geithner will travel to Tokyo and Beijing next week for talks that will include discussions on the standoff with Iran.
--With assistance from Tsuyoshi Inajima in Tokyo. Editors: Aaron Sheldrick, Mike Anderson
To contact the reporters on this story: Takashi Hirokawa in Tokyo at email@example.com; Yuji Okada in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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