Japan's use of fuel oil to generate power is set to fall over the next fiscal year to levels not seen since before the Fukushima disaster, if enough of the country's nuclear reactors are allowed back online.
Demand for low sulphur fuel oil has already dropped as Asia's largest listed power utility Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) leads a switch to coal and gas to cut costs.
Further falls will push product back into an over-supplied Asia-Pacific market, hitting prices and processing margins already expected to be weak due to refinery expansions in China and the Middle East.
Japan's low sulphur fuel oil imports rose to a 39-year high of 150,600 barrels per day (bpd) in the financial year that ended last March 31, but between April and November 2013 fell about a third from the same period the previous year, according to trade ministry data.
Japan is the largest importer of fuel oil for power use in Asia, taking more than twice the volumes of the next biggest user, South Korea, according to traders.
Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, became on Tuesday the nation's first municipality to adopt an ordinance allowing it to issue certificates recognizing same-sex relationships as being "equivalent to marriage." (Japan Times)
In the wake of the suspicious crash of a Germanwings jet, the transport ministry is moving quickly to require all Japanese airlines to have two crew members in the cockpit at all times during flights. (Asahi)
The Japanese government said Monday it will send up to 142,600 personnel in emergency teams within 72 hours to 10 prefectures that are expected to suffer tremendous damage in the event of a major earthquake at the Nankai Trough off Japan's Pacific coast. (Jiji Press)
Three employees of a nursing home in Nagoya have been arrested on suspicion of physically abusing a 93-year-old female resident and taking a video of their act with a mobile phone, police have said. (Japan Times)
Public prosecutors demanded Tuesday that former Aum Supreme Truth cult member Katsuya Takahashi, 56, be sentenced to life in prison for his roles in the 1995 deadly sarin nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subway system and other crimes by the doomsday cult. (The Japan News)
An elementary school teacher in Hyuga, Miyazaki Prefecture, has been arrested after it was discovered that he had lied to a newspaper reporter regarding the presence of a foreign substance in a rice ball ("onigiri") lunch that he purchased at a convenience store. (Japan Today)
In the first application in Tokyo of a law that seeks to restrict the distribution of sexually explicit content for revenge purposes, police on Friday announced the arrest of a 50-year-old male for releasing illicit images of his former girlfriend, reports the Sankei Shimbun (March 27). (Tokyo Reporter)