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Arctic Yearbook 2012
Tonami and Watters
Ocean’. The report summarized the environmental, political and security situations in the Arctic
region and proposed a number of recommendations for the Japanese government.
The attitude of the Japanese government at present is generally welcomed by the Japanese shipping
Given the uncertainties that exist around large-scale transiting of the NSR, the relevant
Japanese business community considers the independent data and information that the governmental
institutions obtain on the Arctic as sufficient for the time being. For instance, the Japanese shipping
industry considers short-term data and information such as weather forecasts as sufficient.
To further accelerate this approach, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
(MLIT) submitted a report together with related ministries, private businesses and advisors to
indicate the NSR as a ‘frontier’ and held a first special committee meeting inside the ministry in
August 2012 to investigate the current status and future policy on the NSR
(MLIT, 2012b)
Japan's Interest in the Arctic
Against the background explained earlier, Japan’s interests in the Arctic can be divided into few
areas. As regards Arctic policy, the Japanese ‘iron triangle’ of the civil service, politicians and
organized business actors seems to be in effect. This means when any action is made, an agreement
is already made among the elements of the triangle, although the combination of actors might be
different (for instance, it could be a triangle of MoFA, politicians interested in specific foreign affairs
and fishing industry, or a triangle of MLIT, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and politicians
with a strong interest in transport issues and the shipping industry.)
According to the government, protecting and understanding the Arctic environment is the primary
aim of Japanese Arctic engagement. The ice-covered areas in the Arctic are decreasing due to climate
change, and other changes in the Arctic affect the eco-system at a global level.
The Japanese government view is that the Arctic “should be recognized as a part of the common
heritage of mankind. The international community should protect this area and use it for peaceful
(Horinouchi, 2010)
. Therefore Japan is responsible to protect the environment of this
area, as a member of the international community as well as a country actively making efforts to
protect the global environment.