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Questions raised over the wisdom of dipping into Japan’s oil reserves

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Earlier this week, U.S. President Joe Biden attempted to influence the oil market by announcing the release of 50 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — the largest release of its kind in U.S. history. Biden’s decision was part of his ongoing efforts to lower prices and to address the lack of supply around the world.

Other major energy consuming nations including China, India, Japan, South Korea and the U.K. made similar moves. In Tokyo, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Japan is acting along with the United States to sell a portion of its national oil reserves “in a manner that does not violate its Petroleum Reserve Law.”

The decision, the first release of Japan’s national oil reserves aimed at bringing oil prices down, is unprecedented. The current national stockpile is sufficient for 145 days, exceeding its target of 90 days. Government officials tried to describe the release as “not primarily for lowering prices,” but rather “a regular transaction to sell the surplus.”

Japan’s oil industry has reportedly questioned the decision to tap into the national stockpile, which was considered a “last resort” move.

Mainstream media outlets in Japan were also skeptical about the decision. Major dailies, liberal and conservative, were unusually unanimous in questioning the wisdom of the measure.

The Mainichi newspaper wrote “no strategy for price stability in sight.” The Yomiuri asked, “Will unprecedented measures stop soaring prices?” and the Sankei urged that “cooperation with oil-producing countries is........

© The Japan Times

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