Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to ask U.S. President Barack Obama during their summit in Tokyo to boost U.S. shale gas exports to Japan, a government source said Sunday.
Japan views the new and abundant source of natural gas as an important way to cut down on energy costs that have only climbed since the loss of all atomic power following the Fukushima disaster spurred a return to thermal power generation, according to the source.
Abe hopes to confirm with Obama during Thursday’s summit not only the importance of the U.S.-Japan security alliance, but also the importance of cooperating in the areas of energy and economics, according to the source.
Abe is also expected to propose stepping up cooperation on promoting clean energy, such as solar and wind power.
Substantial imports of low-priced shale gas would lower Japan’s trade deficit and put it in a better position in price negotiations for gas imports from the Middle East.
During a recent ministerial meeting aimed at promoting Japanese infrastructure exports, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Japan-U.S. relations remain extremely important in securing energy resources amid the development of shale gas production.
In February 2013, Abe asked for early U.S. approval of shale gas exports to Japan when he met with Obama during his first visit to the United States since becoming prime minister again.
The United States has decided to export liquefied natural gas to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the United States, paving the way for shale gas exports to Japan as early as 2017.
Obama is scheduled to visit Japan for three days from Wednesday.