Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Thursday that Japan will not withdraw from the Sakhalin 2 oil and gas project in the Russian Far East despite firms of other countries exiting in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a House of Representatives plenary session on March 31, 2022, in Tokyo. (Kyodo)

"It is an extremely important project in terms of energy security as it has contributed to the long-term, stable supply of inexpensive liquefied natural gas," said Kishida in a parliamentary session.

But he added, "We will step up efforts to reduce our reliance on Russia for energy in line with a Group of Seven nations plan."

Japan depended on Russia for 3.6 percent of its crude oil imports and 8.8 percent of LNG in 2021, according to the Japan External Trade Organization. Most of Japan's LNG imports from Russia come from the project, which involves major Japanese trading houses, Mitsui & Co. and Mitsubishi Corp.

Mitsui and Mitsubishi hold stakes of 12.5 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in the project, while Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom PJSC owns 50 percent.

Britain's Shell PLC, which holds the remaining 27.5 percent stake, announced its exit from the project just days after Russia started the invasion of Ukraine late last month. Exxon Mobil Corp. of the United States has also said it would withdraw from the Sakhalin 1 oil project.

Related coverage:

Japan lists 7 items for supply action over current Russia dependence