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Japan trades on new LNG role fuelled by stronger yen

Japanese trading houses are reinventing their role in the gas game fuelled by a stronger yen, healthy balance sheets and a new political vigor

A visit to Tokyo reveals a new sparkle in the eyes of the trading house officials. Although the previous governments were largely uninterested in their overseas resource investment efforts, it is clear the new prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, is fully behind their activities in the energy arena, specifically after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The sogo shosha or general trading houses as they are known in Japan, trade everything from ramen noodles to missiles, but their involvement in energy spans decades. The top five houses – Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Sumitomo, Itochu and Marubeni – are significantly exposed both as producers and traders to the natural resources sector, including the liquefied

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