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Japan to decide Russia oil embargo timing while weighing impact on economy

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Japan will decide the timing and method of a Russian oil embargo while considering the possible economic impact, its industry minister said on Tuesday, after Tokyo agreed on a ban with other Group of Seven nations over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

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TOKYO, May 10 (Reuters) - Japan will decide the timing and method of a Russian oil embargo while considering the possible economic impact, its industry minister said on Tuesday, after Tokyo agreed on a ban with other Group of Seven nations over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"We would like to consider a method of phasing out over time in a way that minimizes adverse effects on people's lives and business activities," Japanese industry minister Koichi Hagiuda told a news conference.

"We will think about specific methods and timing for reducing or suspending oil imports, taking into account the actual situation," he said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday that Japan will phase out Russian oil imports.

Hagiuda said Japan cannot immediately stop importing oil from Russia but will gradually move away from dependence on Russian energy while ensuring access to alternative supplies.

Asked about a possible acceleration of the restart of nuclear power plants, he said: "Given that it is a decarbonised base-load power source at the practical stage, it is necessary to utilize it as an important power source."

But there is no change in the ministry's policy to proceed with any nuclear restarts only after winning the support of local communities, he said.

Globally, the United States will be indispensable for securing a stable energy supply, Hagiuda said.

"As an oil and gas producing country, the United States has a major role to play and should firmly establish its own system to increase production," he said.

There are plans to expand existing liquefied natural gas projects in the United States that can increase output in a relatively short period of time, and Japan is willing to contribute to those through public finance, he said.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Tom Hogue)

((Yuka.Obayashi@thomsonreuters.com; +813-4520-1265;))

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