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METI minister says Japan pressing US to let Iranian oil imports continue

Tokyo — Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said Tuesday that the government was pressing the US to let Japan continue to import Iranian oil, while leaving refiners to make their own decisions over their imports amid looming sanctions.

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"Each company is making its own judgment and response for Iranian crude oil procurements," Seko said at a news conference, declining to elaborate on the companies' response.

He added that the government does not intend to issue any guidance to refiners about their Iranian oil imports.

"In any case, the government intends to have talks with the US tenaciously in order to continue Iranian crude oil imports," he added.

Seko's comments came as Japanese refiners urge the government to seek a US waiver on Iran sanctions as they are keen to continue importing their usual volumes instead of reducing inflows.

Local refiners are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their Iranian oil imports without US exemptions, as the companies will need to halt imports and clear transactions before the sanctions snap back on November 5.

--Takeo Kumagai, takeo.kumagai@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy.wells@spglobal.com