Official: Sanctions against Iran Harm Japan

TEHRAN (FNA)- Japan's finance minister said US sanctions against Iran harm his country's economy and financial market.

Jun Azumi's comments came as a delegation of US government officials began talks with their Japanese counterparts about the sanctions targeting Iran's oil industry.

Japan's leaders, including the country's prime minister and foreign minister, have already underlined that Tokyo would not reduce oil imports from Iran as demanded by the US.

Azumi told journalists at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan that if the sanctions were imposed immediately, they could sustain "tremendous" damage to Japanese banks. The sanctions would bar financial institutions from the American market if they do business with Iran's central bank.

"We want to take steps to keep the damage to the Japanese economy to a minimum," Azumi said.

Japan imports about 9 percent of its oil from Iran.

Azumi cautioned that "there were some concerns" that the sanctions would not be effective in convincing Iranian authorities to give to the US-led West's aspirations.

He added that "Russia and China hold the keys to resolving this situation".

China, the world's biggest energy consumer, remains unwilling to back an oil embargo against Iran. South Korea also has remained non-committal.

Earlier in the day, Azumi met with UK Chancellor of Exchequer George Osborne to discuss trade, Iran and other matters. Osbourne told reporters that the British government appreciated that it is not easy for Japan to switch nearly one tenth of its oil supplies quickly.