Japan said on Wednesday it would continue to cut its Iranian oil imports "considerably" after hailing a US decision to exempt it from new sanctions over deals with the Islamic state.
"We have explained to the US side that this trend will accelerate in the future and that we will carry out our reductions considerably," Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a press briefing, according to the Nikkei business daily's website.
Fujimura did not elaborate but Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said earlier Wednesday that Tokyo has already cut its Iran oil shipments by 40 percent over the past five years.
Last year, Iranian oil accounted for about 8.8 percent of Japan's total crude imports, according to the Petroleum Association of Japan, or 3.6 million barrels a day.
The United States on Tuesday said it was exempting 11 nations including Japan and some European Union members from the tough new sanctions, praising them for reducing their dependency on Iran's oil.
Under a new law aimed at pressing Tehran over its nuclear programme, the United States would penalise foreign financial institutions for transactions with Iran's central bank, which handles sales of the country's key export.
Iran says that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful purposes, but Israel and a number of Western officials fear that the regime is building a nuclear bomb.