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Japan foreign minister visits Saudi Arabia

Koichiro Gemba, Japan’s foreign minister, visited Saudi Arabia to discuss contingency options to maintain Japan’s flow of oil should EU plans to sanction Iranian oil come to pass, according to Al Arabiya.  Currently Japan receives 9% of its oil supply from Iran, and 30% from Saudi Arabia, so it follows that Japan would like assurances that the Saudis can provide 25-33% more oil if need be.  The article notes that

Pressure from Washington and the European Union to boycott Iranian crude comes at a time when Japan must make greater use of thermal power plants after a massive earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear power crisis last March. The vast bulk of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are now shut down, amid public distrust of the technology and increased safety calls.

Despite ranging projections of how much oil Saudi Arabia still has, an short-term increase in production to help ease the burden of an embargo on Iran is feasible.

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