Japan considering releasing oil reserves to market

NHK has learned that the Japanese government is considering releasing oil from the country's reserves to help curb a crude oil price hike in response to the request of the United States.

As of the end of September, the government had reserves equivalent to 145 days of domestic consumption.

Current regulations allow releasing the reserves only in the event of supply shortages or natural disasters. Addressing soaring oil prices is not intended by the scheme.

Government officials say stockpiles can be released within the legal framework if they are deemed surpluses, as domestic oil demand has been on the decline in recent years.

The Kishida Fumio administration is considering supplying oil to the market in concert with the US and South Korea. However, some government officials say the impact on the market would be limited taking the amount they can supply into account.

It would be Japan's sixth such release. In 2011, supplies were provided from the stockpile of the private sector twice -- once after the major earthquake and tsunami in March, and the second due to the worsening situation in Libya in June.