Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) In a show of solidarity, Japan has offered to share a portion of its gas imports with Europe, should its regular supply of Russian gas be disrupted over growing tensions surrounding a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
According to Japanese Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda, multiple gas shipments, already being diverted towards Europe by private Japanese companies, are scheduled to arrive this month. Hagiuda declined to offer specific figures on the number of ships or companies involved.
The Minister also said on Wednesday that more ships will be headed towards Europe in March, but he did note that the amount of gas to be diverted to Europe would depend on Japan’s domestic demand.
As tensions between Russia and the West mount over Moscow’s potential invasion of Ukraine, European governments increasingly fear Russia could weaponise its gas delivery to Europe should the EU hit Russia with sanctions following an invasion. For many European countries, Russian gas is a key component of their heating and energy grids.
Delivering liquified natural gas (LNG) by ships to European terminals is one possible solution, but the problem remains in securing enough LNG supply to offset the loss of Russian gas deliveries.
Hagiuda told reporters that he had received requests from both EU and the US ambassadors to “accommodate the need” for gas in Europe. “We have communicated to both the US and EU that this cooperation is to be carried out only to the extent that it does not affect Japan’s electricity and gas supplies”, Hagiuda said.
Japan is one of the top LNG importers in the world, Hagiuda noted, recalling how his country received emergency gas supplies from the EU and the US after the devastating quake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that hit Japan in March 2011.
The US embassy in Tokyo has praised the Japanese offer, saying it shows “Japan is standing resolutely with the United States and our European partners, and against the exercise of raw power.”