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Japan's economy in crisis as LNG imports soar

Japan’s economy is in crisis as the cost of increased liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports – necessary to help power generation companies make up for the loss of nuclear capacity – has pushed the country to its first trade deficit in 31 years

Even before the March 2011 earthquake, which saw the reactor at Fukushima Dai’ichi nuclear plant melt down, prompting the shut in of Japan's nuclear capacity, Japan was the world's largest importer of LNG. Japan's LNG demand jumped up from 70 million tonnes a yeat (t/y) in 2010 up to 90m t/y in 2012, the country's energy minister Yasuhiro Matsuyama said, creating “a huge burden” for Japan's economy. “The situation is very serious in terms of economic policy. This big burden is mainly due to the increase hugely in our purchases of fuel for power plants and half of it is from LNG,” Matsuyama said. “Trying to lower purchasing costs of fuel for power plants is a top priority for the government.

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