Four government sources have said that the US has asked Japan if it could reroute part of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports to Europe in the event that the Ukraine situation disrupts supplies.

According to one of the sources, the request was made earlier this week.

Japan, a major importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), will consider measures to help the international community if the Ukraine conflict disrupts supplies, said Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda on Friday.

Hagiuda stated that Japan has long been a "driving force in the development of the LNG market," adding, "we would like to evaluate how we might contribute to the international community."

Japan's New International Resource Strategy for Enhancing LNG Security /  Special Contents -Energy Japan- / Agency for Natural Resources and Energy

However, he added that Japan, a resource-poor country, would first need to secure enough energy to avoid any shortage in electricity as further cold weather was expected.

"After guaranteeing that people's lives are not affected," he stated, "we will see if there is anything that can be done."

The situation in Ukraine had a huge impact on Japan's ability to maintain a steady supply of energy, therefore the country will keep a careful eye on the situation, he said.

Russia and the West have been at odds over Ukraine, raising fears of a disruption in energy supplies to Europe.

Last week, the US, the world's largest natural gas producer, urged Qatar and other major energy suppliers to assess if they could supply Europe if Russian gas exports were disrupted due to the Ukraine crisis.

A source said last week that Qatar will require US assistance persuading its buyers to reroute gas to Europe, where Russia supplies 30% to 40% of the country's gas needs.