All national papers reported that during a press gaggle last night, Prime Minister Kishida disclosed that the GOJ will release 15 million barrels of its strategic oil reserves in coordination with the other International Energy Agency (IEA) members to help stabilize oil prices amid the prolonged war in Ukraine. The amount, which accounts for a quarter of the amount the IEA member states are expected to release on top of the 180 million barrels to be released by the Biden administration, will be equivalent to the volume that Japan uses in one week or imports from Russia in roughly six months. “This will be the first time ever for Japan to release strategic oil reserves since the system was launched in 1978,” said the prime minister. “The amount will be the second largest amount released following that of the United States…. As it is important to ensure stability in the energy market, we will continue to lobby oil-producing nations to increase output and do whatever we can in an accelerated manner.”
According to Mainichi, the GOJ was initially inclined to have Trade and Industry Minister Hagiuda make the announcement on the release, but some GOJ officials were worried that an announcement by a cabinet member could be construed as hesitancy on the part of Tokyo to step up sanctions against Putin even after the atrocities in Bucha. In the end, the prime minister decided to make the announcement to demonstrate that Tokyo is completely in sync with Western nations in taking a hard line. The paper added that the volume of oil to be released by the IEA members probably will not be sufficient to curb spikes in petroleum prices.