Japan's Finance Minister Jun Azumi reaffirmed on Wednesday that the country intended to further decrease its crude oil imports from Iran but he was also cautious about the impact of sanctions on the oil-rich country.
"Our fundamental view is that in the future we will move in the direction of further decreasing Iranian oil imports," Azumi said at a briefing at Tokyo's Foreign Correspondents Club.
But the finance minister said all this should be done in phases and the discussion should be carried out. He was also concerned about the impact of U.S. sanctions on Iran, believing the move, if implemented in a quick way, would bring huge damages to Japanese banks.
"I believe the damages to the Japanese companies should be kept to the minimum," he said.
Japan depends on Iran for about 10 percent of its crude oil imports. Azumi said the country has been cutting the imports from Iran in the past five years.
Last week, Azumi was reported to be saying that Japan planned to reduce oil imports from Iran in line with U.S. sanctions on Iran for its nuclear development program.
Azumi and visiting British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne agreed to exert pressure on Iran with peaceful measures in their meeting on Wednesday, according to local media reports.
Also on Wednesday, a U.S. delegation arrived in Tokyo to hold talks with Japan on reducing crude oil imports from Iran.