Oil prices in Japan will remain stable if a threatened U.S.-led war against Iraq ends swiftly, according to Takeo Hiranuma, minister of economy, trade and industry.

“It will be possible for us to secure oil imports and supplies under stable prices, unless the war is prolonged,” Hiranuma said Friday after a Cabinet meeting.

Japan imports 86 percent of its oil from the Middle East.

He went on to say that Japan “hopes for a peaceful resolution to the matter in the first place.”

There is a sharpening divide among global players regarding the disarming of Iraq, with France, Germany, Russia and China strongly coming out against any war.

Oil prices surged for a short period during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, but the situation soon came under control as the military conflict drew to a quick end.

Japan is currently storing 171 days worth of oil, Hiranuma said, adding that members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, except Iraq and strike-hit Venezuela, can provide more oil in an emergency.

“We want to make the utmost efforts to secure a stable oil supply,” Hiranuma said.

Commenting on what kind of fallout Japan can expect to face from the looming war, Hiranuma said, “We must think about it separately — in the short term, middle term and long term.”

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