Iran is the fourth-biggest crude supplier to Japan and Iranian crude accounted for 8.8 percent of Japan's total imports in 2011.
Japan's fifth biggest refinery says it will continue to import about 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Islamic Republic's crude oil despite mounting pressure from the United States to cut Iran oil imports.
"We will carefully watch the ongoing bilateral discussions between Japan and the United States," Showa Shell Sekiyu KK’s President Jun Arai told Reuters on Tuesday.
"(Iran) is an important source of crude for Japan as well as our company, and we will wait for the government's guidance on the matter," Jun Arai added.
Arai told reporters that Showa Shell Sekiyu has raised the operating rate of its group refineries, with total capacity of 395,000 bpd, to more than 99 percent of nominal capacity after the closure of its 120,000 bpd Ohgimachi facility in September, 2011.
His comments came as US sanctions on Iran over its peaceful nuclear program aim to make it difficult for the refiners around the world, including in Japan, to buy Iran's crude or pay Tehran for its oil.
On the New Year’s Eve, President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions which aim to prevent other countries from importing Iran's oil and doing business with the country’s central bank. The EU followed suit by approving new sanctions on January 23 to ban Iran's oil imports by member countries and freeze the Iranian central bank’s assets within the EU states.
Japan, in addition to Turkey and Iraq, have already sought waiver from US sanctions in order to continue importing Iran's crude.
Iran is the fourth-biggest crude supplier to Japan and the Iranian crude accounted for 8.8 percent of Japan's total imports in 2011.
The US, Israel and their European allies accuse Iran of diversion in its peaceful nuclear program and have used this as an excuse to pass four rounds of international sanctions against the country at the UN Security Council.
Refuting the claims, Tehran insists that as a member to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it is fully entitled to peaceful applications of the nuclear energy.