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Japan's finance minister has pledged to steadily reduce oil imports from Iran after talks with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The pledge demonstrates Japan’s support of US sanctions on Tehran over its disputed nuclear programme.
The move is not without risks for Japan. The country relies heavily on imports for energy usage, and overseas fuel, after last year’s nuclear disaster in Fukushima forced them to wean off the use of nuclear power. The country still imports about 10 percent of its crude oil from Iran.
Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said: "Nuclear development is something that the world can’t shut its eyes to, and so we understand the United States’ position. For the remaining 10 percent share, we plan to gradually reduce that in a concrete manner."
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (L) shakes hands with Japan's Finance Minister Jun Azumi at the Finance Ministry in Tokyo, in this handout photo taken by Japan Ministry of Finance, January 12, 2012. [CNTV]
Geithner welcomed Tokyo’s cooperation, an encouraging sign for US foreign policy. He said: "We are in the early stages, just in the initial stages, of consulting with our allies, both in Europe and in Japan, and around the world, on how best to achieve those objectives. But we’re working very closely together and we very much appreciate the support that Japan has provided in standing with us, in the international community, in support of this important strategic objective."
Iran denies Western suspicions that its nuclear program has military goals, saying it is for purely peaceful purposes. Washington rejected the assertions last month, and signed new sanctions into law against financial institutions dealing with Iran’s central bank, which serves as its main clearing house for oil payments.
Geithner’s visit to Tokyo followed a two-day trip in Beijing as part of a lobbying effort to win support for sanctions from Asia’s two largest economies. China has rejected sanctions in an effort to resolve disputes with Iran.