Conference Commemorates Establishment of Basic Ocean Law [2007/10/10]
Conference Commemorates Establishment of Basic Ocean Law
On a rainy October 1 in Tokyo, Japan’s new prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda opened the new session of the Diet. On the same day at noon, a conference was held commemorating the establishment of the Basic Ocean Law. The conference was held by the Basic Ocean Law Research Committee, a body within the Ocean Policy Research Foundation (ORPF).
400 people, including many active in maritime affairs, took part in the conference, at which an address was read on behalf of Prime Minister Fukuda, (who also heads the national committee on general maritime policies.) In the speech, the prime minister said, “This year, with the establishment of the Basic Ocean Law and structures to promote integrated maritime policies, is the year in which Japan sets sail on its voyage to truly become a nation of the sea … I intend to devote every effort to promoting well-considered maritime policies, so that we might pass on a peaceful, beautiful sea to the next generation.” He also discussed his policy of consolidating jurisdiction over maritime affairs under the Basic Ocean Law, a responsibility that is currently divided across eight different government ministries and agencies.
Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba, who serves on the Basic Ocean Law Research Committee, greeted the assembly in his capacity as member of the government’s committee on general maritime policies. “Japan must transform itself from an insular nation to a nation of the sea,” he said. “As the law states, Japan needs to take an international lead in creating order on the seas… We must evolve from a nation protected by the sea into one that protects the sea.”(Photo: Minister of Defense Shigeru Ishiba)
The Basic Ocean Law was drafted by members of the Diet and became a law in April 2007. In preparation for the bill, the secretariat for the Basic Ocean Law Research Committee was established within the ORPF. This Committee, composed of Diet members, academics, and leaders of relevant government bodies, met ten times to consider a wide range of issues.
The law is a very rare example of legislation arising from private-sector research, and created through consensus among a nonpartisan coalition of Diet members. This effort has been described as a likely model for future bills. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation (which originally established the ORPF in 1975), in order to establish the law, took an active part in forging ties between Diet members from different parties and factions, and at the conference praised the landmark event. “The groundwork has been laid,” he said. “From here, everything will depend on the quality of the structure we build on these foundations.” (Photo: Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of the Nippon Foundation)
The Japanese government plans to prepare the first draft of its maritime plan by late October, announcing the final draft in January 2008, after obtaining opinions from a panel of experts, public comment, and a final decision by the Cabinet.