"Japan’s gas-fired power plants are boosting output to compensate for nuclear reactors shuttered since last year’s earthquake, driving Asia-bound cargoes to a record. The U.S. has surplus natural gas extracted from shale rocks deep underground, and while it lacks a facility to liquefy that fuel for shipping, cargoes delivered to the country under longstanding contracts can be re-exported when overseas prices are higher.
“There’s a huge arbitrage,” Arctic analyst Erik Nikolai Stavseth said by phone yesterday. “When someone is willing to pay that much to move gas from A to B, it tells you demand is very strong.”"
Specifically, "One million British thermal units of LNG costs $17 in Japan and $2.62 on the U.S. Gulf Coast ."
At differentials that great, it's not inconceivable that the US could develop a trade surplus with Japan.