Japan humiliates EU with blueprint to cut Russia ties after ‘unforgivable war crimes’

Liz Truss discusses moving away from Russian oil and gas

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Tokyo is being pushed to cancel Russian fuel imports amid Russia’s brutal Ukrainian invasion. The Japanese Government has now asked power companies to top up their liquified natural gas (LNG) reserves, in what appears to be preparation for an import ban. It has also pleaded with energy companies to share their resources.

It comes after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned Putin for the alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine.

He called Putin’s behaviour outrageous”, adding that “Russia has repeatedly violated international humanitarian law by killing civilians and attacking nuclear power plants”.

Mr Kishida went on: “These are unforgivable war crimes.

“With decisive measures (against Russia) and support that meets the Ukrainian people’s needs, we will make it clear that the international community will never accept Russia’s outrage and Japan stands together with Ukraine.”

He has joined the EU in slapping down a ban on Russian coal, but much like the bloc has been mulling over oil and gas embargos.

While the EU has found it difficult to slash ties with Putin, relying on a staggering 40 percent of gas imports to be delivered by Russia, Japan has also not had an easy ride.

According to S&P Global Commodity Insights, Russia accounted for nine percent of Japan’s total LNG imports of 74.32 million mt, making it the fifth-largest supplier in 2021.

Japanese Government and companies also own stakes in several oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Russia.

These include two projects on Sakhalin Island, which energy giants Exxon Mobil and Shell pull out from.

And despite the announcements, Mr Kishida has indicated that Japan will carry on importing from these projects while the country works out how it can slash ties without battering its economy.

Chairman of the Japan Business Federation Masakazu Tokura has argued that the EU was still importing Russian LNG too, despite sanctions.

But Japan’s Industry Ministry has told power companies to make sure they have three weeks of reserves.

It has also asked gas and electricity companies to sell each other leftover gas rather than export it to foreign customers.

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The EU has come under even more pressure to ban oil and gas but has been slow to do so, with countries like Germany and Hungary being blamed for hamstringing a tough response.

But it does have a plan to import LNG from alternative producers as part of a plan to slash Russian oil and gas by two thirds by the end of the year.

The European Parliament does not think this is good enough, and has unleashed fury at the Commission for not being tough enough.

MEPs voted overwhelming in favour of an immediate ban on all of Putin’s fossil fuels, but that is still yet to take effect.

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