Monday, August 7, 2017 10:31 am
Japan and Russia need to work on building a
more trusting relationship before
any plans to build a natural gas
pipeline between the two nations
can be fulfilled, Japan’s Minister for
Economy, Trade and Industry,
Hiroshige Seko said on Monday.
Building a pipeline linking Russia
and Japan is a long-standing idea,
but a dispute over islands seized by
Russia near the northern Japanese
island of Hokkaido at the end of the
World War Two has kept relations
testy at times.
Japanese gas and electric utilities
that have invested heavily in import
terminals for liquefied natural gas
(LNG) may also be reluctant to
invest in a pipeline.
“Without a sense of further sense of
trust such as a peace treaty, a
pipeline would be no good,” Seko
said during a speech in Tokyo while
answering a question about Japan’s
energy relationship with Russia.
Japan imports nearly all of its
energy sources and is the world’s
biggest buyer of LNG, which is
natural gas cooled until it becomes a
liquid and then transported on
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
said in April that Japan wanted to
resolve a territorial row that has
over-shadowed ties with Russia
since World War Two.
Russia and Japan did not sign a
formal peace treaty at the end of the
war because of a dispute over the
northern islands, called the
Northern Territories in Japan and
the Southern Kuriles in Russia.
The islands were seized by Soviet
forces at the end of the war and
17,000 Japanese residents were
forced to flee.
Despite the lingering dispute, Seko
said that Japan imports around 10
percent of its LNG from Russia and
the country could increase its
reliance on Russia’s LNG a li
ttle bit more.