Average Pump Price Logs First Drop in 18 Weeks

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A gas station in Niigata on Sep. 5.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The average retail price of regular gasoline in Japan as of Monday fell ¥1.7 from a week before to ¥184.8 per liter, down for the first time in 18 weeks, thanks to the government’s expanded subsidy program, the industry ministry said Wednesday.

The expanded program to provide oil wholesalers with subsidies to curb soaring retail prices took effect Thursday last week.

The average pump price rose in Kochi, Nagasaki, Oita, Miyazaki and Okinawa prefectures, stayed flat in Saga Prefecture and fell in the remaining 41 prefectures of the country. The highest price was ¥192.5 in Nagasaki, while the lowest was ¥179.7 in Iwate Prefecture.

The national average stood at ¥186.5 as of Sept. 4, logging a record high for the second consecutive week.

The government had planned to scrap the subsidy program at the end of this month after reducing the aid amount in stages. But pump prices rose from June, when the scaling down of the program started.

With the country’s average pump price hitting 15-year highs in August and later due to the yen’s declines and higher crude oil prices, the government decided to extend the program until the end of this year and increase the subsidy amount, in an effort to protect livelihoods.

The government hopes to see the nationwide average regular gasoline price fall to around ¥175 per liter by the end of October.