TOKYO Oct 30 Japan is seeking an exemption from
proposed new U.S. sanctions against Iran that could effectively
freeze Tehran's use of payments for oil, the Nikkei business
daily reported on Tuesday, citing sources.
Japanese Finance Minister Koriki Jojima asked U.S. Treasury
Secretary Timothy Geithner at an Oct. 11 meeting in Tokyo for
Washington to exempt Japanese banks, the report said, citing
unidentified sources familiar with the matter.
Geithner said the matter was being considered, the report
Japanese government officials were not immediately available
Other importers of Iranian oil besides Japan are also likely
to voice their opposition to the proposed new sanctions.
U.S. lawmakers are considering expanding economic sanctions
on Iran -- measures that already have helped push that country's
currency into free fall but have not yet convinced Tehran to
abandon its nuclear programme.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, a member of the Senate
Banking and Foreign Relations Committees, has said he is looking
at ways to freeze an estimated 30 percent of Iran's foreign
currency reserves held in banks outside the country.
Currently, Japanese buyers of Iranian oil pay Iran for crude
imports in yen via accounts set up at Japanese banks by Iran's
central bank, and the funds later get transferred to Iran's
But the proposed new U.S. sanctions would effectively freeze
those assets, and if the measures are implemented, Iran would no
longer be able to use Japan's oil payments freely, which could
further curb Japan's oil purchases from Iran, the Nikkei report
The United States is expected to set the details of the new
sanctions from now on and implement them from around February,
the report added.
Japan has cut Iranian crude imports significantly to comply
with existing U.S. sanctions against Tehran.
The West has applied sanctions on Iran because it suspects
Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran says its
nuclear programme is for civilian purposes.
For the first eight months of 2012, Japan imported 191,731
barrels per day of Iranian crude, down more than 40 percent from
the same period a year ago, according to Reuters calculations
based on data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry