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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Thoughts on the “Workshop on Arctic Governance in Tokyo" – Expectations for Japan regarding Arctic Issues [2018年10月17日(Wed)]

This blog was originally uploaded in Japanese
to OPRI's blog
on March 12, 2018.


The Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa
Peace Foundation (OPRI-SPF), with co-organizers
The Nippon Foundation and the National Graduate
Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), hosted the
“Workshop on Arctic Governance in Tokyo
for two days on February 8 and 9, 2018.
The purpose of the workshop was to invite experts
on Arctic issues from overseas to discuss what
Asian countries, including Japan, can do for the
Arctic region from their diverse perspectives.
It was the second workshop following the first held
last year, and had many prominent individuals in
attendance. One of the reasons behind this would
be that the world is expecting Japan to do more
on Arctic issues.

The key person among the invited experts was H.E.
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former President of Iceland.
He is currently the chairman of the Arctic Circle, an
international conference considered to be the Arctic
version of the Davos Forum. It is no exaggeration to
say that he is the most influential person in the
world when it comes to Arctic issues. I participated
in the Arctic Circle for the first time when it was held
in Iceland in October of last year, and I was
fortunate to be able to meet Mr. Grímsson in person.

At that time, he said that Japan has not stood out
in the Arctic Circle and insisted that it should become
as involved as the other Asian countries. This does
not mean that there were not many Japanese
people participating in the assembly, but he might
have felt that Japan had not stood out because
there were not many sessions led by Japanese
speakers as compared to those from other Asian
countries, such as China and Korea. In particular,
all eyes of the world have been on the connection
between China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the
Arctic these days. News about China has thus
been in the spotlight, which might have given
him such an impression about Japan.

H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former President of
Iceland, gives a speech at the “Workshop on
Arctic Governance in Tokyo 2018”

Arctic Circle brochure (Front page)

Therefore, I told him that our institute was holding
an international workshop on Arctic governance in
February in Tokyo and suggested that he come to
Japan to participate in the workshop and have an
opportunity to discuss issues directly with Japanese
officials and experts. He immediately said yes.
After Mr. Grímsson’s participation became highly
likely, a number of prominent people from other
countries began to show interest, making the
workshop very successful as a result.
Regrettably, the workshop was a closed meeting for
participants only, so I cannot mention in detail what
was discussed. However, I would like to write about
what the Arctic countries think about Japan being
involved in Arctic issues.

In summary, all experts from the Arctic countries
believe that the stability of the Arctic region is the
most important issue. The Arctic remaining peaceful
and stable is important not only for the Arctic
countries but also for other countries.
However, the viewpoints differ depending on the
country. For Japanese people, the Arctic is a
far-away place. It is like the garden of someone who
lives in a different country. Therefore, we tend to
have the viewpoint of bystanders.

However, if we see the issue from the viewpoint of
the Arctic countries, not just the large ones but
even the small ones, we realize that the role of
Japan has a different significance to them.
Unlike Antarctica, there are many countries in the
Arctic region, and the relationship among these
countries largely affects the stability of the region.
During the Cold War, the power of the United States
and Russia --two superpowers-- and the ice-covered
ocean prevented access to other countries, and this
played a major role in keeping the region stable for
a long time. When the Cold War ended, the main
source of stability in the region changed to the
governance system among the eight countries of
the Arctic region, namely the Arctic Council.
In addition, as the amount of sea ice is reduced due
to global warming, the Arctic has become an
ordinary ocean that anyone can access.
This evoked interest from other countries,
including Asian countries.

Today, it is generally understood that the Arctic is
governed in accordance with international law, such
as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the
Sea (UNCLOS). However, there seems to be a
difference in the understanding of regional stability
among the eight countries, depending on their
standpoints. Officials and experts from the eight
countries participated in the workshop, so we were
able to hear their opinions from their individual
standpoints. Of course their opinions included not
just opinions which represent their country but also
their own personal opinions. However, in general,
all of the countries think that it is important for the
United States and Russia to maintain a constructive
and cooperative relationship.

On the other hand, it was pointed out that the
balance of the two superpowers regarding the Arctic
has been changing. Some thought otherwise, so
they were unable to agree; but various opinions
were exchanged on how to respond to the change
and how to include Asian countries. Speaking about
Asia, considerable attention was given to the idea of
the “Polar Silk Road” as part of China’s Belt and Road
Initiative, though there was both enthusiasm and
skepticism for the idea among the participants.

Open session at the workshop

During the workshop, I felt that three types of
balance were important when thinking about the
stability of the region: (1) balance within the Arctic
region (2) balance between the Arctic region and
Asian countries, and (3) balance among Asian
countries. I will not discuss the evaluation of the
Arctic Council, the current governing system, but
there are both small and large countries among the
eight countries that comprise the Council.
Some are close to the Arctic Ocean, and others
are not. So, the condition of each country varies,
and their viewpoints toward Arctic stability are
different. Some insist that Arctic governance should
be decided by the countries of the region, and some
insist that they should let other countries be involved
if a change is likely in the balance of the relationship
between the United States and Russia. Some think
that if a country becomes too prominent among the
countries which regional authorities have allowed to
be involved, they should let other countries from
other areas be involved in order to neutralize that
power. Also, there was a suggestion to utilize
private frameworks more often. Regardless, it is
clear that Asian countries’ involvement has already
become a factor that will have a large impact on
Arctic issues.

In Japan, a new Basic Plan on Ocean Policy will be
established shortly, and I understand an independent
article on Arctic issues has recently been formulated.
When Japan makes detailed plans on how to become
involved with Arctic issues, it is important to consider
which of the above-mentioned three factors applies
to each of the plans and check the plans again by
focusing on the viewpoint of each country.
It is important not to consider the Arctic countries as
one, but to decide which country needs which kind of
cooperation. We need to have an overall picture
while maintaining a relationship with each country.
Japan needs to become involved in order to maintain
a balance since the presence of Asia has increased in
the Arctic. I want to emphasize again that we need
to firmly understand what the countries expect us
to do.

While listening to the discussions, I was thinking
about why Mr. Grímsson wanted Japan to become
more involved and why he decided to come all the
way to Japan. Considering the situation that Iceland
is currently in, I now have a better understanding of
the reasons.

Eiji Sakai

Ocean Policy Planning and Management Department

Posted by OPRI at 15:00 | この記事のURL | コメント(0)
Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Establishing a Sea Grant Project in Japan (Part 1) [2018年09月20日(Thu)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI's blog
on April 18, 2018.


In this article, I would like to write about the Sea
Grant Programs implemented in the United States
and Korea and discuss whether we can establish a
similar program in Japan. I have chosen to divide
my analysis of the program into two parts.
In this first part, I will present a short discussion
on the topic following an introduction of the
program implemented in the U.S.

-Sea Grant Programs in the United States-

Have you heard of programs called “Sea Grants”?
In the US, Sea Grant Programs (SGPs) have been
supporting locally rooted marine industries and
environmental conservation activities through
grants to universities, for about 50 years on a
cross-sectoral basis. Thirty-three programs are
in place across the United States, including the
Great Lakes, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

An SGP is a support project sponsored by the federal
government based on an act called the National Sea
Grant College Program Act enacted in 1966.
It promotes marine-specific education, research and
extension at universities. Initially, the main target
was the development of fishery resources.
However, in recent years, they have extended their
activities to the development of renewable energies,
such as offshore wind farms, disaster prevention
(for high tides and oil spills) and tourism promotion,
depending on the situation in each region.
They are working to solve multiple issues in the
coastal areas. There are 33 programs all over the
U.S., including in Alaska and Hawaii.
The annual budget of the federal government is
68 million dollars, and the programs have created
economic benefits of approximately 8.5 times that
amount to the areas.

The SGP spread all over the United States.
(Source: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) website)

One of the features of the programs implemented
by regional universities in coastal areas is that they
are programs based on science. This means that
the most important features of the programs are to
provide solutions utilizing the newest technology for
issues each area has and to provide objective
scientific information for the issues of coastal areas
where various conflicts of interest occur.
For the coastal areas where scientific information on
matters such as tidal currents, water quality,
biological activities and submarine topography is
required, the role of these universities is
immeasurable. While new ways of utilizing the sea,
such as the establishment of offshore wind farms,
have begun, these universities are making efforts
to solve issues and connect the activities of local
governments, enterprises and residents.

We tend to focus on the size of the 68 million dollar
budget from the federal government when
considering the SGP in the United States, but
projects – such as connecting local activities and
forming a national network to connect regions –
which do not necessarily require a large budget,
are also highly valued. With such a network,
the outcomes of a project in one area are shared
and spread throughout the entire nation.

*For more details about the SGP in the United
States, please see an article covering the subject
in Ocean Newsletter No.419.

-Extending SGP to Costal Areas in Japan-

Based on the hypothesis that there are some things
we can do without a large budget, I would like to
discuss briefly whether it is possible to develop a
system similar to the SGP of the United States in
Japan or not, taking into consideration new
movements from the aspects of industrial
applicability, security and environmental

First, I will discuss industrial applicability.
As in the United States, the introduction of offshore
wind farms is becoming more realistic in Japan.
Discussions about laws and regulations regarding
the introduction of offshore wind farms into general
waters are now occurring. For example, the Cabinet
submitted the “Bill on the Promotion of the Use of
Territorial Waters for Offshore Renewable Energy
Generation Facilities” last month (March 2018).
How to advance discussions on this new applicability
method while considering the characteristics of the
proposed areas could be an issue, and the bill
allows a committee to be established in order to
gather opinions of the people involved. If we have a
system similar to the SGP, it will allow the committee
to have objective and scientific discussions.

Next comes the topic of security. The Basic Policy**
developed in April 2017 following the enactment of
the “Act of Inhabited Remote Islands on National
Borders” emphasizes the importance of the
sustainability of local communities on the specified
remote islands located on the border of the territorial
seas. However, the importance will be applied not
only to these remote islands but also to the coastal
areas where depopulation and aging is progressing.
Now that wooden boats have been steadily arriving,
possibly from North Korea, Japan has to decide how
to preserve and maintain the coastal areas.
There are an increasing number of expectations for
the establishment of a system which will visualize
and share the local knowledge of each area by
utilizing a system like the SGP.

Lastly, environmental conservation comes into play.
I would like to give a brief introduction of the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are
currently being discussed and debated

The SDGs were set by the United Nations in
September 2015, and goals related to sustainable
conservation and usage of the ocean and marine
resources were indicated as SDG14.
Global efforts are taking place towards the full
implementation of SDG14. The first United Nations
Ocean Conference was held at UN Headquarters in
June 2017, and discussions on marine environment
conservation have been progressing. In particular,
the importance of regional cooperation and
implementation of action plans based on technology
have been pointed out. In addition, with a proposal
from UNESCO in December 2017, the United Nations
designated the years 2021 to 2030 as the “Decade
of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.”
The importance of ocean science in marine
environment conservation is attracting attention,
and I can easily say that we are in a situation where
we must establish a community support system
like the SGP.

SDG14 Logo Image.PNG

Original Icons of Ocean SDGs (SDG 14)
(Source: Ocean White Paper 2018)
*Click to enlarge

Although this requires further study, looking at
recent movements, I believe that there is a need
to establish a science-based community support
system similar to the SGP. In Japan, there has
traditionally been an excellent network for the
purpose of promoting the fisheries, and it has
been functioning for a long time.

I would like to continue my study further by
considering working together with a great network
of prefectural marine experiment stations and fishery
colleges. The SGP of the United States created a
system in which innovations which were created to
solve issues in each community eventually created
new value, and I hope that in my next article I will
be able to introduce a system similar to that.

**Basic Policy on Preservation of Inhabited Remote
Islands on National Borders and Sustainability of
Local Communities on Special Inhabited Remote
Islands on National Borders (April 2017)

Note: This article was utilized research results from
the Japan Society of Ocean Policy’s Research Group
"Towards Revitalization of Coastal Regions by the
Use of the Ocean Policy Approach"
(October 2016 - September 2018)

Tomohiko Tsunoda

Senior Research Fellow
Ocean Policy Studies Division

Posted by OPRI at 14:00 | この記事のURL | コメント(0)
Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: On Participating in the Boston Career Forum [2018年09月13日(Thu)]

This blog post was originally posted to OPRI’s
blog in Japanese
on December 6th, 2017.


Today, instead of discussing activities by the Ocean
Policy Research Institute (OPRI-SPF), I would like to
introduce one of the activities conducted by the
Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF) as a whole.
Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in an
overseas work trip for the first time, to participate
in the Boston Career Forum (November 17-18,
2017, Boston). The Sasakawa Peace Foundation
participated in this event, known as the world’s
largest Japanese-English bilingual career fair, as
part of its recruitment efforts.

I have the opportunity to meet people from various
backgrounds during my work at OPRI-SPF and find
that I am often asked about SPF’s recruitment
process. Given this opportunity, I would like to
introduce one of SPF’s recruitment methods, which
is to recruit through the Boston Career Forum.

At this event, we conducted interviews with
applicants who had passed the application process,
and at the same time gave brief seminars
introducing SPF’s work and culture. Two of SPF’s
executive directors and the director of OPRI-SPF
conducted the interviews, I presented the
information seminars (along with another program
officer), and a member from general affairs took
care of all other work required at our booth,
including receiving the applicants.

As various types of businesses and organizations
took part in the Forum, it was very interesting to
see how each of them presented themselves
through their booths, many of which were
decorated to reflect their culture and colors.
With a large number of university students
attending the Forum, the exhibition center was
filled with excitement.

We conducted the seminars in SPF’s booth, as
shown in the photo below. Since it wasn’t such a
big booth, we were able to really see the students’
reactions as we gave our presentations. Around
100 people attended our seminars over the two
days. In the seminars, which were for 20 minutes
each, we gave brief overviews of SPF and some of
our research projects, including a study on men
and masculinity, the Blue Economy, and also
provided a summary of our recruitment details.
Even when we were not giving seminars, we still
talked to participants who had visited us at the
booth to ask questions.

View of the seminar booth
(Photo taken by author)

Since I was interested in how things were going
in the interviews, I went to go take a photo
(see below). The person sitting in the interviewee
chair is our member from general affairs. Since I
wanted to see what the actual interview would look
like, I had our staff recreate the situation.
While the photo seems to show a nice, friendly
moment, in the actual interview, the closeness
with the interviewers may cause some people to
become nervous.

Recreating the interview process
(Photo taken by author)

While it was only for two days, it was a nice
experience getting to work with members from
other departments. At OPRI-SPF, I have two
colleagues who were accepted through past Boston
Career Forums. Through the Forum, I hope that
this year we will also see new people coming to
work with us.

Rina Uesato
Ocean Policy Planning and Management Department

Posted by OPRI at 15:00 | この記事のURL | コメント(0)
Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Importance of Understanding the Ocean ~Through participation at ICP 18~ [2018年08月29日(Wed)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI’s blog
on June 21, 2017.


“The ocean is a sheet of copy paper.” This is what a
professor told me in his lecture at my university,
and the impression left on me remains to this day.
If you imagine the surface of the ocean as a sheet of
copy paper, a depth of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet)
would be 0.05 millimeters (0.002 inches), or exactly
as thin as a sheet of paper. However, even if it can
be compared to a sheet of paper, it is not easy to
reach the bottom of a 4,000-meter ocean bed.
There are so many things that exist there which
we do not know about. That was the gist of the
professor’s story, and he used it to teach the
importance of “Understanding the Ocean”

The importance of “Understanding the Ocean” was
emphasized in the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, which
was approved by the Japanese Cabinet in 2008.
Understanding the ocean can be said to be a
foundation of ocean policy, as it is stipulated in the
Plan’s General Remarks that, “The sea still holds
many fields yet-to-be-defined scientifically and
various phenomena in the sea mutually have close promoting ocean policy, it is
important to give due considerations to the balance
and collaboration between the ideas of
“understanding the sea,” “protecting the sea” and
“exploiting the sea.”

The 18th meeting of the United Nations Open-Ended
Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the
Law of the Sea (ICP 18) was held May 15-19, 2017.
Participating in this meeting gave me an opportunity
to think about the importance of “Understanding the
Ocean” again, so I would like to introduce two
memorable lectures from the meeting.

Tsunoda 1.jpg
Opening of the ICP 18 (Welcome speech by Peter
Thomson, U.N. General Assembly President)

Introduced by resolution of the U.N. General
Assembly (54/33) in 1999, I would say that the ICP
is the only place to discuss ocean issues apart from
the U.N. General Assembly. The theme of the 18th
meeting was “The effects of climate change on
oceans,” and discussions were conducted on the
issues−such as “ocean warming,” “ocean
acidification,”“rising sea levels,” “marine
ecosystems,” “marine resources” and “coastal
disaster prevention” − which the international
community needs to address based on scientific

The lecture that I would like to introduce first was
the lecture on “ocean acidification,” by Dr. Libby
Jewett of the Office of Atmospheric Research of
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). Concerning the issue of
carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean and
causing ocean acidification due to a chemical
reaction, Dr. Jewett stressed the importance of
“understanding,” by remarking, “What you don’t
measure, you cannot manage.” She showed the
importance of the research on the effects of
acidification on marine life and also the
importance of having an ongoing ocean
acidification monitoring system, such as the
Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network

Next I would like to introduce a lecture by Mr. Andi
E. Sakya of the Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi, dan
Geofisika (BMKG, the Meteorological, Climatological
and Geophysical Agency, Indonesia) on information
transmission measures for the people living in
coastal areas. In order to reduce damage from
disasters along the coast such as tsunamis, BMKG
developed meteorology and climatology early
warning systems. However, the agency faced a
problem. These systems are useless without proper
understanding by the people who receive the
information. As a solution, the agency promoted
the Climate Field School (CFS) system. As the word
‘school’ suggests, courses are actively held to
improve people’s understanding. As a result, the
system contributed to a reduction in damages and
brought the additional benefit of profit increases to
primary industries. Mr. Sakya insisted that he would
encourage expanding this successful system to
those Pacific Island countries that are suffering from
similar coastal disasters.

The above-mentioned ocean acidification is also an
important topic that our institute has taken up as a
project and is working toward solutions for. I feel
confident that we can find and apply good solutions
if we actively make efforts to “share” as well as
“understand,” following the example from Indonesia.

The theme of next year’s ICP 19 is “Anthropogenic
underwater noise.” This is a theme which was also
taken up at last year’s meeting of the Conference
of the Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (COP 13) and which is currently gaining
global attention. However, it is not fully understood
in Japan. I would like to provide information using
the tools of “understanding” and “sharing,” such as
the “Ocean White Paper,” the “Ocean
and the “Ocean Forum.”

Tsunoda 2.png
“Understanding the Ocean,” “Protecting the Ocean”
and “Developing the Ocean”

This is a monument at Kanagawa Prefectural
Marine Science Senior High School.
The students and teachers are tackling the ocean
acidification issue as part of our “Ocean Education
Pioneer School Program.”
Similar wording from the First Basic Plan on Ocean
Policy is engraved on this monument.

Special Thanks:
The professor mentioned in the first paragraph is
Dr. Toshio Yamagata, a Special Research Fellow of
our institute and Professor Emeritus of the
University of Tokyo. He shared the position of chief
editor of the “Ocean Newsletter” for twelve years
from October 2004 to March 2017 with Dr. Tomoya
Akimichi (Professor Emeritus of the Research
Institute for Humanity and Nature). He led us over
a long time in “Understanding the Ocean” and
“Sharing Knowledge.” I would like to thank him
once again.

Tomohiko Tsunoda

Senior Research Fellow
Ocean Policy Studies Division

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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Evaluation Process of Second Basic Plan on Ocean Policy [2018年07月25日(Wed)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI’s blog
on May 17, 2017.


If you have been following this blog, you must be
well aware that our staff members and directors are
devoted to research studies that contribute to the
development of ocean policies both in Japan and
around the world. These research studies include
not only finding and providing new information but
also (re-)evaluating current or existing projects.
The latter is also very important for promoting
better research studies. We conducted an evaluation
process in January 2017 on the second Basic Plan on
Ocean Policy, the results of which will help guide our
future research studies.

We sent an evaluation form to 65 people on our
institute’s research committees (the Comprehensive
Ocean Policy Research Committee, the Research
Committee on the Implementation of the Integrated
Coastal Management Model, the Research
Committee on the Promotion of the Sustainable
Development of Islands and their Surrounding Ocean
Areas, the “Ocean Newsletter” Editorial Committee,
the “Ocean White Paper 2017” Editorial Committee
and the Research Committee on the Future of the
Arctic) and asked for their cooperation on our
evaluation process. Twenty-eight of these individuals
sent us their replies. I would like to thank those who
helped us, especially as it was during the busiest
time of the year.

The results are shown in the diagram below. We
received a high evaluation on the policies of
“4. Securing Maritime Transport,” “9. Integrated
Coastal Zone Management” and “10. Conservation
of Remote Islands.” On the other hand, we received
a low evaluation on the policies of “3. Promotion of
Development of Exclusive Economic Zones,”
“7. Promotion of Research and Development of
Ocean Science and Technology” and “8. Promotion
of Ocean Industries and Strengthening International
Competitiveness.” However, non-experts gave us a
high evaluation on those policies that received a low
evaluation from the experts. My honest opinion is
that it was very interesting (and rather surprising)
for me, who was in charge of this process, to see the
difference in their understanding and evaluation of
each policy. For reference, this evaluation process
had a feature where we asked the participants to
choose whether they were “an expert,” “not an
expert but have an interest,” or “not an expert and
have no interest” in each of the twelve policies
stipulated in the second Basic Plan on Ocean Policy
before they completed the evaluation process.
Therefore, we were able to show the differences in
their understanding, as shown below.

Evaluation of Achievement per Policy
(Source: Modified from “Report on Research
Concerning Ocean Policy in Japan (2016)”)

We also included a free comment section on the
evaluation sheet. There were some harsh opinions
on the second Basic Plan on Ocean Policy. One such
shared opinion was, “All in all, it was impossible to
avoid the impression that these measures were
thrown together quickly from existing ones from
each ministry. Policies based on the Basic Act on
Ocean Policy and the United Nations Convention on
Maritime Law have not yet been fully developed
since the initial planning stages.” Another opinion
stated, “I would encourage as many people as
possible to try to understand the ocean. For this,
it is important to share knowledge of the ocean with
Japanese citizens and gain their understanding.
However, I do not think this has been achieved.
People’s lives have gotten further and further away
from the concept of an ‘Ocean State.’” In addition,
we received comments regarding current issues and
future development that said, “The well-developed
Ocean Basic Plan should be made widely known to
the public. Efforts to evoke interest in the ocean and
opportunities to discuss the ocean should be
encouraged further.” As a researcher concerned with
ocean policy, this really pleased me.

For more details about the evaluation process of the
second Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, please read the
“Report on Research Concerning Ocean Policy in
Japan (2016),” compiled by our institute. We are
hopeful that the report will be utilized in future
research on ocean policy. Our institute wishes to
gather policy suggestions based on opinions from the
participants and utilize the report in contributing to
the establishment of a new Basic Plan on Ocean
Policy. We hope that we will continue to receive
further guidance and encouragement from our
readers in the future.

Yuta Komori
Research Fellow, Ocean Policy Studies Division

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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Earthquake Recovery and Ocean Education in Onagawa [2018年06月20日(Wed)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI's blog
on April 26, 2017.


It has been a year since the 2016 Kumamoto
Earthquake, and continuing efforts toward recovery
were reported recently in the news. The Tōhoku
Region also underwent a large amount of damage in
the Great East Japan Earthquake and is still in a
process of recovery.

A teacher training session was conducted on the
11th and 12th of February 2017 under the title of
“Educational Tour of the Ocean for Teachers/
Understanding Ocean Education from a Perspective
of Disaster Prevention −With Onagawa, at the
Forefront of Earthquake Restoration−” (The event
was hosted by The Nippon Foundation in cooperation
with the University of Tokyo Ocean Alliance’s
Research Center for Marine Education and the Ocean
Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace
Foundation). Since OPRI has been engaged in ocean
education for many years, I have visited schools
myself and conducted surveys concerning the
implementation status of ocean education.
During those visits, I often heard that teachers were
learning (or planning to learn) about disaster
prevention, especially tsunamis, due to the impact
of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

To be honest, I have never experienced a large-scale
earthquake. When the Great East Japan Earthquake
occurred, I was living in an area completely
unaffected by it. All I could do was obtain
information by watching about the affected areas on
television. While participating in the teacher training
as a tour leader however, by visiting locations which
were greatly damaged by the tsunami and listening
to people discuss restoration and what actually
happened on the day of the earthquake, I learned
things one can usually only learn by actually visiting
the affected sites.

I heard many stories and learned a lot through this
teacher training, but would like to introduce one
example in regard to ocean disaster prevention
education. As some of our readers might already
know, the students of Onagawa Junior High School
have begun an activity called the “Stone Memorial of
Life Project.” The students plan to erect large stone
tablets in twenty-one locations around Onagawa.
Each tablet will be placed at a location that is higher
than the elevation reached by the tsunami.
The students came up with this project in order to
encourage a continued awareness of the catastrophe
for the next 1,000 years.

Each stone tablet contains a haiku −a short
Japanese poem− written about the disaster by the
students. I think this is a project from which many
schools can learn a lot when undertaking ocean
education, especially ocean disaster prevention

In addition to being a great location for learning,
Onagawa is a wonderful place to visit. Everyone I
met there was friendly and kind. The seafood was
delicious, and the “Onagawa-don,” a bowl of rice
topped with seafood which I prepared for myself,
was superb. (I am now a little regretful that I was
too impatient to take a photograph of it and instead
immediately ate it.)

I heard that the promenade in front of Onagawa
Station, in the shopping area known as “Seapal Pier
Onagawa,” was designed so that the sun would rise
at the end of it on New Year’s Day. You should visit
Onagawa to try the delicious seafood and see the
first sunrise of the year.

View of Onagawa Bay from the earthquake and
tsunami resistant fish freezing and storage facility

Rina Uesato
Research Fellow, Ocean Policy Studies Division

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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Development of a Comprehensive Forest, River and Ocean Health Check [2018年05月30日(Wed)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI’s blog
on November 22, 2016.


In 2000, when our institute was operating as the
Ocean Policy Research Foundation, we developed an
“Ocean Health Check” to measure marine
environmental conditions using the “stability of the
ecosystem” and “circulation of water” around the
coastal zones as indicators. Using this system,
we conducted two assessments of the “stability of
the ecosystem” and “circulation of water” in Japan.
The first assessment began in 2001 in 88 closed
bays, and the second assessment began in 2006 in
71 closed bays. The results of the implementation of
the “Ocean Health Check” clearly showed that the
negative environmental conditions existing in the
coastal waters resulted from human activity there
and on adjoining land areas.

The Japanese government enacted the Basic Act on
Ocean Policy as a national policy in 2007. Article 25,
the “Integrated Management of the Coastal Zone,”
stipulates that “if it is determined that it would be
best to apply countermeasures in coastal sea and
land areas integrally, the government shall take
necessary measures to ensure that such an area be
managed properly by implementing regulatory and
other measures comprehensively.” (Translation by
the Ocean Policy Research Institute provided here.
For the full unofficial translation by the Japanese
government, see * at the bottom of the post.)
In regard to coastal zones, therefore, the natural
environment and human society should be
considered in a unified manner and policies to be
implemented should be discussed and evaluated
comprehensively. It was to this end, that, while
extending the scope of the coastal zone − which
includes the coastal sea and land areas − to forests,
rivers and oceans, we developed a new diagnostic
method in 2015 called the “Comprehensive Forest,
River and Ocean Health Check” at our institution.

The Ocean Health Check was based on two main
components: the “stability of the ecosystem” and
“circulation of water.” Our “Comprehensive Forest,
River and Ocean Health Check” added the “state of
social and economic activities of human beings in
the coastal zones” as another component from a
social science perspective. Also, from both a natural
science and social science perspective, we set five
goals and made a list of 22 detailed items to cover,
and suggested qualitative indications in 34 items to
evaluate these. This was the first phase in the
development of the assessment method used for
government policies. In the next phase of
development, we will conduct trial health checks
using actual data from local governments.
Through comparisons, such as between those areas
where comprehensive management is implemented
in the coastal zones and the areas where it is not,
we will check the effectiveness of the assessment
resulting from our “Comprehensive Forest, River and
Ocean Health Check” and review the characteristics
of the indicators. We would also like to establish the
best assessment method possible.

In future, we hope that this “Comprehensive Forest,
River and Ocean Health Check” will help in providing
useful suggestions for establishing a plan to be
implemented in coastal areas as a basis for
evaluating each government policy.

Relationship between Forests, Rivers and Oceans
(Source: “Sato-Umi Zukuri no Tebiki-Sho”)
**Refer to the above source (in Japanese) and
for more information on Sato-umi.

Xiang Gao
Research Fellow, Ocean Policy Studies Division

*See here for the full unofficial translation of the
Basic Act on Ocean Policy on the Headquarters for
Ocean Policy website. Also, below is a portion of
Article 25 from the unofficial translation.

Article 25 (1): The State shall take necessary
measures for the coastal sea areas and land areas,
where recognized suitable for the measures to be
implemented in a unified manner upon the natural
and social conditions, to be managed properly, by
the regulatory and other measures to the activities
implemented in the integrated manner...

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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: What Seawater Carries and Connects [2018年04月25日(Wed)]

This post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI's blog
on April 5th, 2017.


Half a year has passed since the “Ocean Jigsaw
Puzzle Piece” was introduced in our institute’s blog as
a new series. We deeply appreciate those who are
reading the blog posts. I would like to explain a little
bit about the series for those who are unfamiliar with
it. Researchers at our institute take turns introducing
what we are studying individually or a key “piece”
we have found in our research. This is reader-
participation type content, in which we hope that
readers will understand the research goals we are
aiming for after reading various “pieces.”

This time I would like to talk about my speciality −
hydrology: studies for water currents. It is the
existence of dense fluid (water) which separates
the characteristics of the sea environment, including
the coastal area, from the land environment.
Water is about 1,000 times heavier, about 50 times
more adhesive and about 4 times harder to warm up
and cool down than air. A 100 gram unit of water
can dissolve about 200 grams of sugar.
This means that water can hold one ton of material
per cubic meter. A small current of 30 centimeters
per second of water has the same kinetic energy
as a wind speed of 10 meters per second.
One liter of water can dissolve the daily calories
required for 2.5 adult men.

While water circulates between the ocean and the
land from mountains passing through rivers and
underground, it transfers various things such as
heat, nutrients, sediments, and sand by absorbing
some, dissolving some, and retaining some.
Then it returns to the ocean after part of it is used
by humans. A main characteristic of water is its
power to “carry” things whether they are tangible
or not. As many various items are “carried,”
substances circulate in the water, resulting in the
ecosystem itself having a strong connective power.
When we think about the ocean environment and
the coastal area, we need to think about wider and
long-term impacts comprehensively.


Diagram of the Water Cycle in Coastal Areas
(Created by the author. Click image to enlarge.)

The substances carried by water currents include
living things. Areas linked by living things are called
ecosystem networks, a key concept for conservation
and revitalization of ocean and coastal ecosystems.

In the research done on the network of the Asari
clam larvae in Tokyo Bay which was conducted
mainly by the National Institute for Land and
Infrastructure Management of the Ministry of Land,
Transport and Tourism(*), a diagram of clams was
created through the connections among individuals
from various fields of expertise. Fishermen
cooperated with the survey and provided information
on clams, fishery researchers identified Asari clam
larvae, oceanography researchers analyzed the bay
and ocean currents, communication technology
researchers observed the current inside the bay
using marine radar, ecosystem researchers
confirmed the life cycle of Asari clams and their
predation relationship, and assessment and analysis
experts conducted the survey and analysis.

KF 2.jpg

Presumed Network of Asari Clam Larvae
(The red arrows show the links inside the same
tidal flat, the blue arrows show the links between
different tidal flats, and the numbers show the
relative strength of the links.)
Source: Hinata & Furukawa (2005)

This diagram shows that the link between the north
and the southwest of Tokyo Bay, on the Tokyo and
Kanagawa Prefecture side, is oriented mostly in one
direction. This indicated to us that we would need to
create and restore tidal flats−the sizes do not
matter but the number should be increased−to
strengthen the network. In response to these
research findings, the “Action Plan for Tokyo Bay
Renaissance,” which was developed in 2003 (with
the second phase decided in 2013), established a
“prioritized area” between inner Tokyo Bay and the
western side as a restoration measure.

Restoration of tidal flats is also important in our
institute's project titlted “Implementation of model
site projects on Integrated Coastal Management."
Four tidal flats were restored in Ago Bay, Shima City,
by opening the gate of the dyke which was originally
set up to create reclaimed land. These tidal flats are
expected to create a variety of networks in the flow
of the coastal waters. They will function as the core
of the ecosystem network and as a base for human
interactions. For that purpose, we will continue our
research by focusing on water circulation and “items
the water carries” with a comprehensive perspective
by working together with a variety of stakeholders.

Keita Furukawa

Ocean Research and Development Department

*Additional material: Research on Asari clam larvae

Hinata, H., & Furukawa, K. (2005). Ecological
network linked by the planktonic larvae of the clam
Ruditapes philippinarum in Tokyo Bay.
In E. Wolanski (Ed.), The Environment in Asia
Pacific Harbours.

Kasuya, T., Hamaguchi, M., Furukawa, K., &
Hinata, H. (2003). Larval abundance, distribution,
and size composition of planktonic larvae of the
clam Ruditapes philippinarum in the summer season
in Tokyo Bay. Res Rep Nat Int Land Infrastr Mang 8
(in Japanese)

Kasuya, T., Hamaguchi, M., Furukawa, K., &
Hinata, H. (2003). Larval abundance, distribution,
and size composition of planktonic larvae of the
clam Ruditapes philippinarum in the fall season in
Tokyo Bay. Res Rep Nat Int Land Infrastr Mang 12
(in Japanese)

Tokyo Bay Renaissance Promotion Council. (2003).
Action plan of the Tokyo Bay Renaissance.
(in Japanese)

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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Ocean Education Grant System ~The Pioneer School Program and a Consideration of Ocean Education~ [2018年03月22日(Thu)]

This blog post was originally uploaded in
Japanese to OPRI's blog
on February 8th, 2017.


The Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa
Peace Foundation(OPRI-SPF) began the development
of a new marine educational grant called the
Ocean Education Pioneer School Program
in Japanese) jointly with The Nippon Foundation
and the University of Tokyo Ocean Alliance's
Research Center for Marine Education
in 2016.

In its first year, 64 schools (elementary schools,
junior and senior high schools and schools for
special needs education) from 28 prefectures from
Hokkaido to Okinawa participated. Each school
provided a draft curriculum on educational topics
pertaining to oceans when they applied for the
funding. There were various kinds of programs:
programs applicable for any location in Japan −
such as disaster prevention, driftage research,
fishing port observation, fish tasting, and tideland
observation− to programs which utilize local
features − such as a salmon study in the northern
region, community collaborated eelgrass
reproduction activity, traditional salt-making,
creation of a squid culture bed using both land and
sea,and a drive-fishing experience using a traditional
fishing boat used near coral reefs called a “sabani.”

From simply viewing the list of the programs, I could
not help but realize that the Japanese islands are
actually quite varied and extensive. Some members
from OPRI-SPF visited several elementary schools
and observed their activities. It was impressive
when the children were sharing stories about the
ecology of the crabs they had caught during their
beach education class and the name of the coral
they were growing in a tank. A teacher told us that
a child who was normally quiet and reserved in the
classroom showed outstanding leadership in the
tideland observation.

Part of the activities' results was presented at the
4th National Ocean Education Summit “New Trends
in Ocean Education” hosted by the RCME and The
Nippon Foundation at the University of Tokyo on
Feb. 5, 2017.Three hundred and sixty people
attended from institutions nationwide, including
boards of education, inland schools, and social
education facilities. The venue was surrounded by an
air of excitement.

There were 23 poster presentations from 13 pioneer
schools. Students of elementary and junior high
schools from the Tokyo metropolitan area and
remote places such as Hironocho (Iwate Prefecture),
Kesennuma City (Miyagi Prefecture)
and Nachikatsuuracho (Wakayama Prefecture)
participated in the summit. They took their
presentations very earnestly. There were occasions
when senior high school students were engaged in
high-level heated discussions with university
professors or students from different schools, and
I could see that the summit was an important
meeting place for them.

In addition, we spoke with enthusiastic teachers
from Ishikawa Prefecture and Minami-Satsuma City
of Kagoshima Prefecture who traveled on the very
first Shinkansen bullet train of the day, and I was
overwhelmed to realize that ocean education is so
widespread from one enthusiastic person to another.
Among the Pioneer Schools, there have been
instances where two schools which are located
geographically quite far apart have made contact,
exchanged information and lent a helping hand in
developing each other’s programs.
Moreover, Pioneer School Program activities are now
starting to involve their surrounding areas, to
become wider social education programs.
Great potential is expected.

The poster presentation hall at the 4th National
Ocean Education Summit. In front is a set of diving
gear for “Nanbu-Moguri,” which was presented by
Iwate Prefectural Taneichi Senior High School.

These days a new trend in ocean education is
definitely beginning to become apparent.
However, as discussions progress at the Pioneer
School meetings, we often return to the main
subject of “what is ocean education in the first
place?” The image people have of the ocean varies
depending on the person. The concept of the
ocean is extremely broad. So I sometimes wonder
myself what exactly does ocean education signify?

I come from an earth science background, and I
teach geography and biotic life history to university
students. My lecture starts from the time when
there was no ocean on the Earth. The dramatic
evolutionary changes which have affected Earth and
its ecosystems over 4 billion years are impressive.
When I ask my students which topic they remember
the most, the top answer is “the movement of life
from ocean to land.” They said that they were
particularly moved when they found the connection
between ancient creatures and themselves. Plants,
insects and animals came one after the other to the
land from the sea; but at that time, our distant
ancestors also adapted their bodies in order to
overcome many obstacles so as to survive on land.
However, they never completely relinquished the
environment of the ocean they had been living in
before. Four-legged animals came to land with
an ocean component inside their bodies.

The ocean that land animals have inside their bodies
is “bones.” The calcium ion plays an important role
as an intercellular signalling substance which
controls muscle contraction and emission of
physiologically active substances. Calcium is stored
in this ocean of bones in preparation for its shortage.
Also, the ion concentration in human cells reflects
the ion concentration in the Cambrian ocean, and
the ion concentration in our blood reflects the ion
concentration in the ocean. In the 4.6 billion years of
Earth’s history, the ion concentration of seawater has
gone through several large-scale changes. Calcium
ion concentration dramatically increased immediately
before the Cambrian period 550 million years ago.
The expansion rate of the mid-ocean ridge is
considered to be the cause*. Organisms, armed
with calcium carbonate shells which they made
using abundant materials, have emerged.
The chemical composition of seawater in each era
in Earth’s history is imprinted and reflected in the
bodies of multicellular animals.

Considering this, there is no need for us to cry,
“Let’s live with the ocean!” Our lives have been
intertwined with the ocean since long ago.
However, the sense of having the ocean inside our
bodies has been lost in those of us who live in the
modern age. This has caused the connection with
the ocean environment to become distant and
non-contiguous. Astronauts add Earth environmental
components into their space suits before flying into
outer space. We are like astronauts who have stayed
in outer space too long and have forgotten the
reason for wearing the space suits. To know the
ocean is to know ourselves. In what class at school
can we regain this feeling? I hope that children can
find it on their own without relying on ocean
education as part of a social studies** unit and can
learn to value natural science, art and culture.

Nobuko Nakamura

Research Fellow,
Ocean Policy Studies Division/
Ocean Education Division

* The period of rapid expansion of the mid-ocean
ridge signifies the period of increased production
of oceanic plate composed of basalt. This is
equivalent to large-scale volcanic activities and the
warm period. At this time, the calcium (Ca) released
due to the quality change of basalt and the
magnesium (Mg) uptake from the seawater increase,
and the Mg/Ca ratio in the seawater decreased.
(Stanley 2006)

** In the report on the revision of the curriculum
guidelines by the Central Education Council of the
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and
Technology in December 2016, it says that “(We will)
review the necessary part of the curriculum related
to issues such as... understanding the ocean and
national land territories” within “Social Studies,
Geography and Civics.”

Changes in Ocean’s Chemical Composition (Ratio of
Calcium [Ca] and Magnesium [Mg] through
Phanerozoic Eon)

There are two kinds of crystal structures in
calcium carbonate: calcite and aragonite.
The crystal structure of the shells calcified
organisms make differs depending upon
the time period.

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Ocean Jigsaw Puzzle Piece Series: Is the Experience from the Fukushima Disaster Being Put to Use? [2018年03月07日(Wed)]

This blog post was originally posted in Japanese
to OPRI's blog
on November 9, 2016.


Since 1992, The Nippon Foundation and the Ocean
Policy Research Foundation (now the Ocean Policy
Research Institute) have been engaged in an
international research project, mainly in Japan,
Russia, and Norway, to open a Northern Sea Route,
and have been looking for opportunities to raise
awareness of this future passage through the Arctic
Ocean. Conducting maritime industry research in
the Arctic Ocean includes research in a wide range
of fields, including everything from planetary science
and marine ice engineering to maritime distribution
trends, maritime law, international law, the Arctic
Council, domestic laws in coastal countries,
Classification Society regulations, the insurance
industry, and nuclear vessel reactors.

Today, I would like to touch on one topic relevant to
nuclear vessel reactors and related to the Chernobyl
and Fukushima nuclear disasters, which were
mentioned at the 5th International Expert
Symposium in Fukushima on Radiation and Health.
This symposium was held from September 26-27,
2016, hosted by The Nippon Foundation as part of
its work related to the Fukushima disaster.

In Hokkaido, polar lows and other polar weather
phenomena are causing problems for residents,
but various substances of Siberian origin travel
great distances on the prevailing westerly winds,
sometimes making their way into the trees of
Hokkaido. On April 26, 1986, the radioactive
substance strontium 90 emanated from the No. 4
reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant due to
the meltdown of its core. By chance, after
conducting growth ring analysis of an elm tree that
had fallen when Hokkaido was struck by a typhoon,
we learned from trace amounts detected in the ring
corresponding to 1986 that strontium 90 from the
Chernobyl disaster had reached Hokkaido.
On the other hand, radioactive material resulting
from the core meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi
Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011 reached
Northern Europe, which naturally means that this
incident, with its consequent impact on the
atmosphere, has become a global problem.

Japan is the only country to have suffered the effects
of atomic bombs, but it is strange that the national
government is not raising awareness about the
nuclear disaster among its people through the
sharing of appropriate documents with local
governments. These documents should contain
information on issues that we should have learned
from the nuclear disaster, starting from the origins of
the disaster, and including information on the
aftereffects of nuclear radiation and how to prevent
further contamination. Nuclear power companies,
which are said to be maliciously hiding this
information, may be exerting significant influence to
keep this information suppressed, but now, after the
government has decided to approve atomic energy,
I think it is time to raise awareness on these issues.
While I cannot say that the following articles fall into
the category of awareness-raising literature on these
issues, I do recommend that my readers have a look
at them.

- AV Yablokov, et. al. (Supervising Translator Jun
Hoshikawa), “Chernobyl: Consequences of the
Catastrophe for People and the Environment,”
Iwanami Shoten, 2013.

- Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board,
“Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear
Accident for Improving Safety of U.S. Nuclear
Plants; Phase 1 and 2,”
The National Academies Press, 2016.

Hiromitsu Kitagawa
Visiting Research Fellow

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