Under pressure from the United States, Japan will reduce the amount of oil it imports from Iran. Tokyo officials are currently in talks with Washington about how much Japan will cut.
Japan's foreign ministers believe the final number will be somewhere around 11 percent, although that figure has not been finalized.
We are closely negotiating with the United States and are moving forward toward mutual understanding, but it is not the case that we have reached a conclusion, Trade Minister Yukio Edano told reporters in Tokyo.
The negations are part of the latest push to convince Iran to come back to the nuclear negotiation table. The United States and the European Union are hoping that sanctions on Iran's oil industry will put enough economic pressure on the Teheran government to restart its own talks on Iran's supposed nuclear weapons program.
At the start of the year, Washington imposed new sanctions that would penalize any foreign government or business that did business with Iran's central bank, through which all international oil transactions are brokered. Under the new economic measures, any financial institution that deals with Iran will not be allowed to work with American businesses.
Japan is the third-biggest buyer of Iranian petroleum, importing around 300,000 barrels per day, which is about 10 percent of Iran's daily output. Additionally, Japan has invested $2 billion in the Azadegan oil field, and trade between the two countries amounts to about $11 billion annually.
According to the Iranian state-run media outlet Press TV, Japan is trying to negotiate a waiver that would allow it to partially bypass sanctions and continue to do business with Iran. The deal would require Japan to reduce the amount it purchases from Iran, but not force Japan to cut off trade altogether.
Tokyo has reportedly planned to reduce its oil imports from Iran by at least 11 percent annually in an attempt to win an exemption from the U.S. for Japanese banks, the news outlet reported.
This waiver is written into the American sanctions and a number of countries, such as Turkey, have expressed interest in applying it.
Others, like China, have chosen to ignore both the U.S. sanction and new European Union sanctions completely, claiming that one country or one governing body cannot challenge the sovereignty of an independent nation.
The U.S. sanctions will not take effect for an estimated four more months.