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UPDATE 1-Japan to import 30 pct less Iran crude for rest of 2012 -PAJ chief
* Japan imported about 67 pct less crude from Iran in Aug
* Steep fall in Aug due to certain shipping arrangements -PAJ chief
* JX chairman: Filled gap with crude from other M.East suppliers
TOKYO, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Japan, a major buyer of Iranian crude, is set to import about 30 percent less crude oil from Iran for the rest of this year compared with a year earlier, the president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) said on Friday.
Japan, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, imported 101,035 barrels per day of crude from Iran in August, down 66.8 percent from a year earlier, the trade ministry's data showed.
The association's president, Yasushi Kimura, said the steep year-on-year fall in August was caused by certain shipping arrangements and should be considered an exception. Japan had a one-month hiatus in acceptance in July in light of European Union sanctions on Tehran aimed at pressuring the Islamic Republic over its disputed nuclear programme.
"Japan as a whole is cutting (Iranian crude imports) by about 30 percent now, like the numbers seen between January and June," Kimura said at a news conference. "We expect this level of imports to continue for the rest of the year."
How much Japan buys beyond December will depend on geopolitical and economic situations at the time when each buyer decides on next annual contracts with Iran, he said.
Term contracts of Japanese buyers usually start in January or in April.
Kimura, who also serves as chairman of Japan's top oil refiner, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, said his company has covered a drop in supply from Iran with crude from other countries in the Middle East and extra condensate imports.
He declined to elaborate further on alternative suppliers.
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