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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Japan’s Arctic Policy: The Sum of Many Parts
primary objective of the Project was “to stimulate Asian countries’ interest in the NSR through the
presentation of update information of natural resources preserved in the regions with development
and transportation scenarios”
(OPRF, 2012b)
As a result of the studies, the JANSROP-GIS (geographic information system) was compiled. Based
on the results from these research projects, the Japanese shipping industry’s conclusion on the
feasibility of the NSR was that there were too many uncertainties to generate any financial benefits.
Meanwhile, in December 2004
the Council for Science and Technology Policy (under the Cabinet
Office) agreed on the Promotion Strategy of Earth Observation. This included Japan’s aim to realize
a long-term, continuous observation of the polar regions and cryosphere
(MEXT, 2010)
However, it was not until 2009 that the Arctic issue attracted significant public attention in Japan. In
April, the Japanese Vice Foreign Minister released an official statement on the 50
anniversary of the
Antarctic Treaty and announced Japan’s intention to apply for Permanent Observer status at the
Arctic Council
(S. Hashimoto, 2009)
. In July 2009
the Japanese government officially submitted an
application for Permanent Observer status to the Arctic Council. MoFA followed this action by
establishing an Arctic Task Force under the International Legal Affairs Bureau, Ocean Division in
September 2009. Since November 2010, MoFA officials have attended Arctic Council meetings.
These shifts were also complemented by nation-wide, large-scale scientific research projects.
March 2010, MEXT submitted a draft report ‘Regarding institutional cooperation for the
observation of the cryosphere’. In June 2010, the ‘Arctic Research Examination Working Group’ was
established within MEXT and in August 2010, the Working Group released an interim report. The
report proposed to establish the Consortium for Arctic Environmental Research in order to facilitate
cooperation between related research institutions and to strengthen Arctic research
(MEXT, 2010)
The development of a ‘Research Program on Arctic Climate Change’ was recommended as well. In
December 2010, MEXT obtained programmatic funding for Arctic Environmental Research,
starting fiscal year 2011. The funding was intended to extend over five years, until fiscal year 2015.
Based on this funding, the Japan Consortium for Arctic Environmental Research (JCAR) was
established under the NIPR in May 2011.
Meanwhile, in April 2011, the National Institute for Defense Studies released an annual report titled
‘Overview of the East Asia Strategy 2011’ that contained a chapter on ‘The future order of the Arctic