Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida concludes Gulf Tour with Qatar visit
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida concluded his Gulf tour with a visit to gas-rich Qatar on Tuesday. This marked the first visit by a Japanese premier to Doha in a decade.
Prior to his Qatar visit, Kishida embarked on his tour in Saudi Arabia, where he held discussions with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of the country. The prime minister highlighted the importance of addressing energy challenges amidst the unstable supply caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine during a press conference in Doha.
Japan heavily relies on imported crude oil, with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar being its primary suppliers. As the Gulf states increasingly transition towards cleaner energy sources, Japan aims to contribute its expertise in greener and renewable technologies to support their decarbonization efforts.
Kishida emphasized the potential for collaboration, stating, “By leveraging the strengths of the Gulf states and Japan, the Middle East’s oil producers can transform into global green energy hubs, exporting decarbonized energy and critical minerals.” The prime minister further highlighted the areas of cooperation, including hydrogen and ammonium production, as well as decarbonization technology.
Earlier in the day, Kishida met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to discuss energy security and supplies. Negotiations were underway for Japanese companies to secure new long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply contracts with Qatar, as reported by Bloomberg. The report mentioned that Japan’s LNG importers have not signed a contract with Qatar since 2014, resulting in a significant drop in Qatari LNG deliveries to Tokyo last year.
Takafumi Yanagisawa, a researcher with Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics, highlighted the potential disruption to Japan’s LNG supply following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He stressed the importance of securing a stable and reliable LNG supply from Qatar. Meanwhile, China has already secured some of the industry’s longest-running contracts with Qatar, with recent agreements spanning up to 27 years.
Qatar, the world’s largest natural gas reserve holder located in the North Field, plans to expand its LNG production by at least 60 percent, reaching 126 million tonnes per year by 2027. Qatari gas, traditionally favored by Asian markets such as China, Japan, and South Korea, has gained increasing demand from European countries since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine last year.
Prime Minister Kishida’s Gulf tour aimed to foster closer ties in energy cooperation, address challenges posed by the current global energy landscape, and position Japan as a valuable partner in the Gulf region’s sustainable energy transition.