South Korea also is now in a partial nuclear shutdown/suspension mode, because of safety concerns about faked certificates and suspect equipment, and this has further added to demand, together with extreme, protracted hot weather.
The $16 per MMBTU price is a 10% increase from the lows reached in springtime, but down from the nearly $20 peak reached in January/early February. US Henry Hub gas prices in recent years have been between $2 and $4. Add another $3 or $4 for liquefaction and transport, and the obvious question is why Japanese prices should ever exceed the $8-$10 range over the medium/long term?
This situation highlights the need for Japan to diversify its sources of LNG supply, and to take advantage of potential increased lower-priced natural gas availability all around the Pacific Rim (starting with the U.S. and Canada), if it is to manage a transition away from nuclear power.