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Amid tensions with Russia, Japan considers supplying LNG to Europe

The likely impact of Russia-Ukraine tensions on energy supplies has led Japan to consider diverting its liquefied natural gas (LNG) reserves to Europe.

“Japan plans to provide part of its LNG reserves to Europe as simmering tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine undermine energy security in the region,” Japanese government sources told Tokyo-based Kyodo News on Wednesday.

The sources said Tokyo will “secure enough supply for domestic needs before assisting European countries that are facing the threat of disruptions to Russian gas supply in the event of an incursion by Moscow into Ukraine.”

While Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government is discussing the volume and timing of diverting LNG to Europe, it may also seek cooperation from Japanese companies involved in the LNG business for the giant move.

Tensions in Ukraine have been increasing for months after Russia amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s border, which the West says is preparation for war. Both NATO and the EU have warned of severe consequences if Moscow invades its neighbor.

Russia has repeatedly denied that it plans to attack Ukraine, insisting that its troops are there only for exercises.

Tokyo’s plan to divert its LNG reserves to Europe comes after the US asked Japan “to extend energy assistance to ensure stable energy supplies in the region during the winter.”

Russia supplies around 40% of Europe’s total gas requirement.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a meeting last week: “Russia will not hesitate to use its energy supplies to Europe as a ‘weapon for geopolitical gain’ as energy prices surge worldwide.”

However, the report said the LNG “demand for heating tends to outpace supply in the month of February in Japan.”

“We will study if there’s anything we can do without affecting people’s everyday lives,” Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda had said earlier this month.