Japan is working with other Asian oil consumers to develop reciprocal frameworks to ensure uninterrupted flow of crude and petroleum products in the event that a potential escalation of tensions in the Middle East threatens to disrupt supply.
"Without ensuring Asia's stability, Japan's security can not also be assured," Hajime Wakuda, deputy chief executive of METI's natural resources and fuel division, told the subcommittee, referring to the region's high reliance on Middle East oil supplies.
VULNERABILITY of ASIA
The September attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia revealed the limitations of Asia in handling supply disruptions with purpose-built emergency supplies that either do not exist or fall short of global standards.
While IEA members Japan and South Korea have mandated 90-day fuel import petroleum reserves, China and India continue to build their own, with oil exporters such as Indonesia and Malaysia finding less need for petroleum reserves.
The new policy development in Tokyo stems from its assessment that any supply interruption to other major Asian oil consumers would have side effects on the security of Japan's oil supply.
Japanese refiners welcomed the new overview of METI's energy security strategy on Wednesday.
"We see it as an important task to diversify sources of supply to reduce dependence on the Middle East," said Nobuaki Oshio, managing director of the Japan Petroleum Association.
Japan's petroleum reserves stood at 509.54 million barrels at the end of September, accounting for 230 days of use, and METI data showed 193 days of imports. It includes Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi carrying 9.43 million barrels.
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