The government plans to offer ¥1 trillion in loan guarantees for projects aimed at securing cheaper liquefied natural gas, industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Friday.
“Reducing fuel costs is a pressing issue for our country’s economy,” Motegi said, citing Japan’s struggles with increasing fuel costs imported for thermal power generation since the 2011 start of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster and subsequent nationwide reactor shutdown.
“We think there is room to lower import prices of natural gas,” Motegi said, referring to a program that helps companies participating in projects involved in the U.S. production of shale gas, which is cheaper than conventional natural gas.
The loan guarantee program will be offered through Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., Motegi said.
Energy costs remain a source of concern, with utilities increasingly importing LNG to boost thermal power generation to cover the loss of nearly all nuclear power as a result of the reactor shutdowns.
Japan and other parts of Asia have been paying higher prices for LNG imports than the United States and European countries as prices in Asia are linked to relatively expensive crude oil prices under long-term contracts.