TOKYO--Japan has passed a law that allows the government to provide insurance coverage of up to $7.6 billion
for tankers carrying Iranian crude oil to Japanese ports, said a spokesman with the marine department of the
country's transportation ministry, adding that the law took effect Wednesday 27 June 2012. Japan needed the law so that it could continue to import crude from the Islamic Republic that would otherwise be practically uninsurable given European Union sanctions prohibiting insurance and reinsurance companies from taking business associated with Iranian crude from July 1. Japanese marine insurers use EU-based reinsurers for 80%-90% of the insurance they issue. Japan has been steadily reducing its dependence on Iranian crude as a result of Western sanctions against Tehran. In March, the U.S. granted a formal exemption to Japan from sanctions on buyers of Iranian crude due to Japan's commitment to continuing to reduce its business dealings with Iran. Japan's Iranian crude imports in April were down 65.5% from a year earlier, at 118,450 barrels a day, according to government data.