An image of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attending the UAE-Japan Business Forum in Abu Dhabi — AFP/Files

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida concluded his Gulf tour focused on energy security and cooperation by visiting gas-rich Qatar on Tuesday. 

The visit aimed to strengthen ties and collaboration between Tokyo and Qatar, particularly in stabilizing the global market for liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

Kishida’s tour began in Saudi Arabia, where he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and then proceeded to the United Arab Emirates before arriving in Doha, marking the first visit by a Japanese premier to Qatar in a decade.

During his meeting with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Kishida discussed developments related to energy security and supplies. The leaders will also attend a Japan-Qatar meeting focused on promoting cooperation in energy security, clean energy, and decarbonization.

 The foreign ministry of Japan stated that both countries would express their expectations for increased participation by Japanese corporations in large-scale projects, including upstream LNG initiatives.

The visit comes at a time when Japanese companies are negotiating new long-term LNG supply contracts with Qatar. Bloomberg reported that Japanese LNG importers have not signed a contract with Qatar since 2014, and deliveries of Qatari LNG to Tokyo decreased by over 60% last year. Japan’s top LNG importer, Jera, did not renew contracts for gas supply of 5.5 million tonnes per year that expired in 2021. The need for increased LNG supply from Qatar is crucial for Japan, especially considering potential disruptions in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

While Japan seeks to secure stable and reliable LNG supply from Qatar, China has already signed long-term contracts with Qatar, including a recent 27-year deal to receive four million tonnes annually. China’s agreements with Qatar have marked some of the industry’s longest-running contracts. Qatari gas, primarily consumed by Asian countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea, has also gained interest from European nations since the Ukraine crisis. Qatar plans to expand activities at the North Field, the world’s largest natural gas reserve, to increase LNG production by at least 60% to reach 126 million tonnes per year by 2027.

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