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EDITORIAL: Japan should legally justify tapping into state oil reserves

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The government has decided to release Japan’s state oil reserves for the first time ever. The decision has been made in response to a U.S. call for concerted actions to lower soaring oil prices.

China, India and other major oil-consuming nations have also responded to Washington’s initiative, based on the argument that a supply shortage has driven up crude oil prices and kept them at high levels.

Since Japan’s Petroleum Reserve Law does not cite higher prices as a rationale for releasing the state oil reserves, there is no denying that the government’s move is legally questionable.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has claimed that the action is not aimed at curbing oil prices. But this seems to deviate from the truth.

The government should offer an honest explanation about the decision and initiate Diet debate on the current oil reserve system for a possible change if it is out of tune with the times.

As the world economy is recovering from the downturn caused by the new........

© The Asahi Shimbun

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