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ECONOMY > Energy

Editorial: Japan should decide to withdraw from Sakhalin resource projects

  • March 3, 2022
  • , Sankei , p. 2
  • JMH Translation

Major Western oil companies have announced one after another their withdrawal from Sakhalin resource development projects in the Russian Far East.


In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the international community has started imposing severe economic sanctions on Russia. Western companies have decided to withdraw from the resource development projects in Russia as part of the sanctions.


Japan, as a member of the Western world, must align itself with the West and decide to withdraw from Russia’s resource development projects. If only Japan remains engaged in projects there, it would send the wrong message to the international community.


The Sakhalin projects, in which the government and major trading companies participate, have served as valuable sources of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil for Japan. For this reason, the government must take the lead in deciding to withdraw from the projects, and at the same time, the public and private sectors must work together to procure alternative resources from other countries.


Following the British oil giant Shell’s announcement of its withdrawal from the “Sakhalin 2” LNG development project, U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil has decided to withdraw from “Sakhalin 1.” BP, a British oil giant, has decided to sell its shares in a Russian state oil company, effectively withdrawing from Russia.


Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, depriving the country of its sovereignty and trampling on freedom and democracy, can’t be tolerated. The international community has strengthened its sanctions against Russia, and Western energy companies have made clear their condemnation of Russian barbarism by announcing their withdrawal from Russia.


The Japanese government, ITOCHU Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, and others have invested in Sakhalin 1, while Mitsui & Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation have invested in Sakhalin 2, importing LNG, crude oil, and other resources under long-term contracts. Japan imports 9% of its LNG and 13% of its coal from Russia. In Russia’s Yamal region of the Arctic Circle,  Mitsui and others are participating in the construction of an LNG terminal.


If these Japanese companies withdraw from Russia’s resource development projects, it would surely deliver a major blow to Japan’s energy procurement. However, if the Japanese companies continue to participate in the Russian projects for fear that withdrawing from them would disadvantage their securing resources, it would undermine the unity of global sanctions against Russia.


Some Japanese companies importing LNG from Russia persist in saying that they want to continue procuring resources from there. However, it would be unacceptable for them to continue self-servingly to procure resources from Russia behind the scenes while the Japanese government in no uncertain terms has condemned Russia.

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