* Asia Dec imports drop to 1.58 mln bpd, down 16.3 pct on-year
* China imports slip 17.2 pct on-yr, Japan shipments fall 11.2 pct
* Asia's 2017 imports rise 2.5 pct to 1.67 mln bpd
TOKYO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia fell 16.3 percent in December from the year before, government and ship-tracking data showed. The decline comes despite a push by Tehran to retain its prized Asian customers through price reductions in the face of a potential renewal of U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.
In total, China, India, Japan and South Korea imported 1.58 million barrels per day (bpd) last month from Iran, the data showed. They brought in 1.67 million bpd over the whole of 2017, up 2.5 percent from the year before. President Donald Trump has threatened the United States would quit a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran's nuclear program if "disastrous flaws" were not fixed. Amir Zamaninia, Iran's deputy oil minister for trade and international affairs, said last Thursday at a conference in Tokyo that the nation was in full compliance with its obligations under the deal. December oil purchases by top buyer China fell 17.2 percent from the previous year to 571,275 bpd in December, while India's imports declined 6.2 percent, although that marked the highest in nine months, ship tracking data showed. Imports to Japan were down 11.2 percent from a year earlier at 218,757 bpd, showed data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Wednesday. The tables below outline Iran crude imports in bpd by Asia's biggest buyers for last month and for all of 2017:
Nation Dec-17 Dec-16 yr/yr pct China 571,275 689,530 -17.2 India 512,900 546,600 -6.2 Japan 218,757 246,243 -11.2 Korea 281,032 410,387 -31.5 Total 1,583,964 1,892,760 -16.3 Nation Jan-Dec 2017 Jan-Dec 2016 yr/yr pct China 623,075 624,243 -0.2 India 470,500 472,900 -0.5 Japan 172,216 227,142 -24.2 Korea 405,132 305,852 32.5 Total 1,670,923 1,630,137 2.5
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Joseph Radford)