Japan’s crude oil imports from Iran in September dropped more than a third from a year earlier amid deepening Western sanctions, data released by the trade ministry showed on Wednesday.
Tehran is under intense financial pressure from US and the EU which accuse the Islamic Republic of working on developing ‘weapons of mass destruction’.
Iran has already banned exports of 50 basic goods to preserve essential items on Tuesday.
Japan, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, imported 891,300 kilolitres (186,870 barrels per day) of Iranian crude last month, compared with 1,395,238 kl a year earlier and 497,961 kl in the previous month.
Japanese parliament approved an unprecedented law in June that allowed Tokyo to provide cover of up to $7.6 billion for incidents involving tankers bringing Iranian oil to the country.
Japan, which is depending on fossil fuel to generate electricity after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, imported 120,000 bpd for both June and July, sources said, unchanged from May.
Iranian oil accounted for nearly 9% of Japan’s crude imports last year. Japan has reduced the flow already to comply with U.S. sanctions requiring buyers to make sizeable cuts, but wants to avoid more drastic reductions that could drive up energy import costs and hurt the world’s third-largest economy.
It was the first time Japan has sought to provide guarantees on marine shipments.