Japanese stakeholders in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project in eastern Russia will retain their stake in the undertaking by joining a new Russian operator recently established under a decree, the industry minister said Friday, as the project remains a vital source of energy for resource-poor Japan.

The Japanese government and companies including major trading houses Itochu and Marubeni have invested in the project through Tokyo-based Sakhalin Oil and Gas Development. If the Russian side approves the company plan decided at Friday's shareholders meeting, Japan will be able to keep its stake in the project.

The move comes amid international sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.