Japan's Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi asked Qatar to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the country at low prices, the Nikkei business daily reported Wednesday, citing ministry officials.
Motegi made the request during talks with Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, president of Qatar's Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, in Tokyo on Tuesday, according to the newspaper.
It is highly unusual for a cabinet minister to make such a request of a leader of another country, as prices of the fuel are set by the private sector. Japan is the world's largest LNG importer by volume, with roughly 15 percent of its imports coming from Qatar as its second-largest supplier. Japan's bill for LNG has been increasing as utilities have boosted imports of LNG for thermal power generation following the radiation accident in March 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Currently, only two of the nation's 50 workable nuclear reactors are online in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.