Figures from the Japanese Government have shown that the country’s oil imports in May fell to the lowest total in three decades, as the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a collapse in oil demand across the world.

Japan imported 1.92 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in May, 36% lower than a year earlier and is the second-lowest figure since records began in 1988.

The presence of a decline is not a surprise, with the International Energy Agency predicting a 9.3 million bpd decline in global oil demand this year due to the pandemic, but the depths to which Japanese demand has plummeted will be a concern for many. According to the US Energy Information Agency, Japan’s oil demand had been falling for some time, from 5.70 million bpd in 1996 to 4.27 million bpd in 2014. The Covid-19 pandemic, which has disrupted traditional means of working and transportation, has rapidly accelerated this decline.