By Oka Daisuke
At a Nov. 26 press conference, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hagiuda Koichi commented on “Arctic LNG 2,” a liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the Arctic Sea led by a major Russian gas company. Turning to the withdrawal of several European financial institutions from the project, Hagiuda said he will refrain from commenting on individual cases. Hagiuda expressed his intent for Japan to continue supporting the project, saying, “I think [the project] is extremely important for [our] energy security.”
The Mainichi Shimbun reported on Nov. 24 that a major Italian bank as well as German and French financial institutions had withdrawn from the Arctic LNG 2 project. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, which planned to co-finance the project with the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), had considered withdrawing at one point but decided to continue financing it when the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) sent a letter explaining that [Arctic LNG 2] is a “national policy” project.
In response to criticism of natural gas, Hagiuda said that Japan has “pledged to the international community that it will solve the technical problem” of [LNG] emissions, including “using [emitted gases] in the production of hydrogen, a decarbonized fuel, and utilizing carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS),” a new technology that captures and reuses emitted carbon dioxide (CO2). Hagiuda acknowledged that the Arctic LNG 2 project is an important project for resource-poor Japan, saying that “the project will offer Japan a stable supply of LNG over the long term.”