Japan plans to gradually reduce coal imports from Russia

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A machine loads a BelAZ dump truck with coal at the Chernigovsky open pit mine outside the town of Beryozovsky, Kemerovo region, Siberia, Russia April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Ilya Naymushin/File Photo

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TOKYO, April 8 (Reuters) – Japan, the world’s third-largest coal importer, plans to gradually reduce its imports of Russian coal while seeking alternative suppliers following sanctions against Moscow, the industry minister said on Friday.

This decision also highlights a potential change in Japan’s energy supply policy.

Minister Koichi Hagiuda told reporters that Japan will eventually aim to end coal imports from Russia, the country’s second largest thermal coal supplier in 2021. He said it would be difficult to find immediate alternative suppliers.

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Russia accounted for 11% of Japan’s total coal imports in 2021, according to government data. Russia was Japan’s fifth largest supplier of raw and liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2021. read more

Japan imports almost all of the coal it consumes, making it the third largest importer after India and China, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration.

“We would need to find other suppliers or we would have difficulty getting domestic coal, which could lead to power outages, etc. We need to avoid such a situation,” Hagiuda said.

“We will do business with Russian sanctions without inflicting a burden on domestic industry.”

Japan will coordinate its actions with the United States and European countries, after the Group of Seven (G7) allies issued a statement promising additional sanctions against Russia in response to its allegations of civilian massacres in Ukraine.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday that Japan would unveil new sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine as early as Friday after coordinating with G7 allies on new punitive measures. Read more

Following Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special operation,” Japan has tightened sanctions ranging from Moscow’s withdrawal from the SWIFT international payments network to freezing central bank assets .

He also froze the assets of Russian officials, oligarchs, banks

and other institutions, aligned with G7 economies, and

bans high-tech exports to Russia.

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Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim, Ritsuko Shimizu; Written by Mariko Katsumura; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Shri Navaratnam and Michael Perry

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