Japan plans to step up efforts to rein in fuel prices


An employee of Cosmo Energy Holdings’ Cosmo Oil gas station checks his nozzles at a branch in Tokyo, Japan, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

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TOKYO, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Japan is considering new measures to help mitigate a sharp rise in fuel prices and minimize the impact on people’s lives and economic activities, the industry minister said on Thursday. , while oil prices remain high in a context of scarcity.

Crude oil prices hit seven-year highs, pushed by concerns over tight global supply and potential disruptions amid growing tension in Eastern Europe, driving fuel prices soaring in recent months .

Japan, which is also asking some producing countries to increase production, launched a temporary subsidy program last month and has since increased the amount twice to a cap of 50 yen ($0.4) a liter . Read more

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“We will consider which are the most effective measures from the point of view of minimizing the impact on people’s lives and economic activities,” Koichi Hagiuda told a press conference, but refrained from commenting. say what the measurements were.

The ministry is not considering raising the subsidy cap or releasing a gas tax trigger clause “at this time”, he added.

The 2010 trigger clause aimed to reduce gasoline and diesel taxes when gasoline prices stay above 160 yen per liter for three consecutive months, but was frozen to free up reconstruction funds earthquake for the northeast after a devastating event in 2011 and the accompanying tsunami. nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima.

Hagiuda added that Japan would also continue to ask oil-producing countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and the United States, to increase production to help stabilize oil prices.

When asked if he was also asking Iran to increase production, he replied “No”.

Global investors are closely watching the outcome of the US-Iranian nuclear talks which resumed this week. A deal could lift U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil and ease the global supply squeeze. Read more

($1 = 115.5000 yen)

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Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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