Japan Requests Waiver from US’ Iran Oil Sanctions

February 13, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. delegation (n.) – a group of people that represents a larger group (like an organization or a country)
Example:  The company’s main office sent a delegation to visit an overseas branch.

2. waiver (n.) – the act of releasing the duty or obligation from  a certain rule or law
Example: In order to boost tourism, the government issued a waiver on the limit of the number of tourists that can come to the country.

3. sanction (n.) – a set of penalties for breaking a law or rule
Example:  Students who cheat on their exams are suspended from classes as a sanction for their offense.

4. curb (v.) – to limit or to keep something under control
Example: The road widening project curbed the traffic problem.

5. common ground (n.) – something that people agree about even if they disagree about other things
Example: Seeking for a common ground is important to build healthy relationships.

Read the text below.

At a recent meeting with a US delegation, Japan officials requested a waiver from a new US law giving sanctions to countries that participate in the oil trade with Iran. Japan cited economic concerns and significant reduced oil imports from Iran as reasons for the law to be applied less strictly.

According to the new law, financial institutions that are discovered to have done business with Iran's central bank—especially those that have made payments for oil--can no longer operate in the US. The law aims to curb Iran’s crude oil exports and to stop the possible funding of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Although Japan--which imports 10% of its oil from Iran--understands the significance of the law, officials said that the US should consider Japan's economy, which has been fragile since the March 11 disaster. With less available oil, prices may soar, affecting not only Japan’s but also the global economy. Japan also needs more energy supplies from abroad because many of its nuclear reactors suspended operations after the meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Japan also pointed out the 40% decrease in its Iran oil imports for the last five years, a trend that will likely continue, an official said. Although the new U.S. law states how a waiver could be granted to countries that have significantly reduced oil purchases from Iran, it fails to define what a "significant reduction" specifically means.

According to chairman Akihiko Tembo of the Petroleum Association of Japan, while US and Japan delegations continue to seek common ground, oil distributors are already looking for alternative suppliers. But getting a waiver from the new law will be difficult, he says, and decreasing Iran oil imports may still be unavoidable.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

     Should Japan continue buying oil from Iran despite Iran’s possible nuclear ambitions? Why or why not?
     Do you think that what US did is an effective action to stop or prevent Iran from such ambitions? Please explain further.

Discussion B

     Do you think Japan can survive without importing oil abroad? Please explain your answer.
     Would Japan benefit from importing less oil? Why or why not?


February 13, 2012