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Japan says will swiftly lift Iran sanctions

Japan says it is rushing through a series of measures to lift all sanctions restricting economic relations with Iran.

The all-clear to business with Tehran comes a day after the UN Security Council joined the US and the EU to remove sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“Quick measures will be taken in accordance with the decisions of the UN Security Council,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.

Suga said all ministries and agencies related to the sanctions are “coordinating their positions,” to resume normal trade with Iran.

The Japanese government plans to sign an agreement on bilateral investment cooperation with Iran.

In negotiating the investment pact, Japan plans to ask that its companies be treated the same as Iranian businesses and that their investment assets be protected, the business daily the Nikkei said in August last year.

Iran had granted preferential rights to Japan’s state-owned Inpex Corp. to develop the country’s South Azadegan oilfield but the company withdrew from the project in 2010 due to US pressures.

On Monday, the Mainichi newspaper said Tokyo is interested in restoring the rights for developing the Azadegan field, which is one of the largest in the world.

Its oil reserves are estimated at 35-42 billion barrels. Inpex owned 75% of shares in the project.

Tehran also accounted for 10% of Japan’s oil imports before sanctions cut them to five percent. Japan now wants to raise the purchases to the previous level, the Nikkei said.

Japan’s producers of cars and household appliances are also interested in Iran’s market where there is a buoyant demand for consumer goods.

Nissan Motors is already in talks on establishing an assembly plant in the country. Toyo Engineering, which has built refining facilities in Iran, is also looking to returning to Iran.

Last August, Japan’s State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Daishiro Yamagiwa visited Tehran at the head of a delegation representing 21 companies.

Executives from major trading houses such as Mitsubishi Corp., Mitsui & Co. and Itochu, as well as plant-engineering giant JGC and big-name banks accompanied Yamagiwa in the visit.

On Sunday, the United Nations Security Council announced that it had removed Iranian Bank Sepah and its international subsidiary from a sanctions list.

In separate moves, US President Barack Obama revoked a 20-year regime of sanctions against Iran and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced lifting of economic blockade against Tehran a day earlier.

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