Japan was a loyal backer of US-led sanctions on Iran, having slashed its imports from the Islamic Republic after those restrictions were put in place. The promise of close coordination going forward could mean the continuation of this policy, or it could mean following the American lead in opening up to Iranian business. The Obama administration’s actions during nuclear negotiations indicate that officials believe that sanctions relief and extensive good will provide significant incentives for Iranian cooperation. The truth of this claim has certainly been called into question by US congressmen, citing an apparent lack of compromise from Iran.
If Japan was coordinating closely with the United States on Iran trade policy last month, then the United States is in favor of expansion. Japan reported nearly 50 percent more imports of Iranian oil over the previous month, according to Gulf News. And these figures contribute to a more general increase in exports of Iranian oil to Asia. The four main buyers in that region – China, India, South Korea, and Japan – reportedly took in 25 percent more Iranian oil in the first half of this year, as opposed to the last.
China, typically an ally of the Islamic Republic, has naturally led the way on this increase. This may be indicative of more general expansions of trade and economic relations between the two countries. The Brookings Institution points out that Iran has reportedly increased its Chinese imports by 122 percent under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.