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Yohei Sasakawa
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Seabed 2030 Project Given Fresh Momentum [2019年12月26日(Thu)]
I was very pleased that the Schmidt Ocean Institute of the United States has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project to share all of its collected mapping data with our endeavor to map the entire ocean floor by the end of the next decade.

The signing came after representatives of both groups met at the Royal Society in London in late October, making the Palo Alto, California-based institute one of more than 100 organizations to formally support the project.

I believe that this will give fresh momentum to our ambitious global initiative, as the U.S. institute itself reached a major milestone by mapping more than one million square kilometers of ocean floor only recently.

About 32 million square kilometers or 15 percent of the world’s oceans have been mapped, according to the Seabed 2030 Project, which was launched at the United Nations Oceans Conference in 2017 by the Nippon Foundation and General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO). 

Understanding the bathymetry of the world’s oceans is vital for improving maritime navigation, and also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources.  A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami, and better understand tides and wave action.

We are determined to work closely with the Schmidt Ocean Institute and all the other partners and stakeholders to achieve the goal of mapping the entirety of the world sea floor by 2030.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Nearly 400 Students Sent to 4 Countries to Study Marine Development [2019年11月29日(Fri)]
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With the students in dark red T-shirts, who were sent to the United States, at a meeting in Tokyo on October 11, 2019.

Since 2016, The Nippon Foundation has dispatched nearly 400 Japanese university students to the United States, the Netherlands, Norway and Scotland to study marine development, including offshore oil and natural gas development and wind-power generation.

On October 11 I had the pleasure of attending a meeting in Tokyo with 47 undergraduate and graduate students from universities across Japan who debriefed us on the upshot of their study trips this year. The program was launched in 2016 by The Nippon Foundation Ocean Innovation Consortium, made up of the government, industry, and academia, with the aim of cultivating human resources for offshore development.

I told the young engineers that Japan, despite being an ocean state, is trailing other countries considerably in marine development, and I expressed my hope that it will gain global leadership in this field with their help.

This should be Japan's primary policy as an ocean state. But the government has other jobs to do and there are things that it cannot do especially with its huge budget deficit.

Given the situation, The Nippon Foundation is ready to do whatever it can so that Japan can assume a leadership role in ocean issues.

Against this backdrop, I told the students that they have had a wonderful opportunity to gain fresh insights from having studied marine development in one or other of the four nations−albeit for a short time−and that this experience will doubtless be instrumental in shaping their future.  

So far, 397 fellows have been sent to those nations under this program. It is in the spirit of The Nippon Foundation scholarship programs that participants form a network and collaborate and compete with each other by continuing to interact and exchange information even after they come home.

It is our wish to have these fellows deepen cooperation throughout their careers and engage in more diverse and innovative work. Keeping this spirit in mind, please go on working with The Nippon Foundation, I told them.



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With the students who were sent to Scotland.  Some girls wore kilts.

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With the students in navy blue polo shirts, who were sent to the Netherlands.


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With the students in green T-shirts, who were sent to Norway.


Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:20 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Co-hosts 2nd Coast Guard Global Summit in Tokyo [2019年11月26日(Tue)]
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Posing for a group photo with participants in the 2nd Coast Guard Global Summit after a farewell reception on November 21, 2019, attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The prime minister is 10th from the left in the front row and I am on his right. 


I was delighted that The Nippon Foundation co-hosted the 2nd Coast Guard Global Summit with the Japan Coast Guard at a Tokyo hotel on November 20-21.

The gathering brought together representatives from 75 countries, including the United States, China and South Korea, as well as such international bodies as the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The number of delegates was double that for the first meeting held in 2017.

In welcoming the delegates, I stated that coast guards around the world continue to play an important role as “the most reliable first responders,” protecting our shores from outside threats, and coming to the rescue when disaster strikes.  “At the same time, they are protecting the entire ocean which controls the climate and conditions for sustaining life of all living beings. Without the ocean there would have been no life on Earth,” I added.

But the responsibilities of coast guards around the world have multiplied into diverse areas as there is rising incidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, leading to the depletion of fish stocks, while crimes such as contraband and piracy are affecting global security.

“The action we take from this platform is important because it has global impact on not only maritime security and safety but in mitigating the crises facing our oceans,” I told the delegates.

I stressed the summit was an important opportunity to bring together and share wisdom and experiences from each country to find the most effective way for coast guards around the world to share information, act in close coordination and formulate a diverse international action plan to reduce the damage that we inflict on our oceans.

During the two-day summit, the delegates agreed to start developing human resources capable of tackling global challenges facing the oceans and set up a website to allow those countries and institutions to share their expertise, experiences and information.

The Nippon Foundation is “ready to offer our support to any action that may be initiated as a result of this summit.” I told a farewell reception on November 21, which was also attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

I thanked Admiral Shuichi Iwanami, Commandant of the Japan Coast Guard, and everyone from his organization for their tireless efforts in preparing for this conference.

The delegates agreed to hold the 3rd Coast Guard Global Summit in 2021. 

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Addressing the 2nd Coast Guard Global Summit at a Tokyo hotel on November 20, 2019.

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The summit brought together leaders of coast guards from 75 countries as well as such international bodies as the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 08:55 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Announcing New Initiatives to Tackle Challenges Facing Oceans at Conferences in Europe (2) [2019年11月07日(Thu)]
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Meeting with Cabinet ministers from small island states in the West Indies at a hotel in Oslo on October 24.


The second destination of my week-long visit to Europe was Oslo, where I attended the Our Ocean 2019 Conference sponsored by the Norwegian government on October 23-24.

The session brought together some 500 representatives from the business community, the science and technology community, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and funders from all over the globe.

In my speech to the second day session, I stated that The Nippon Foundation has and continues to be committed to the ocean, noting “Based on our founding principle, ‘One World, One Family’, we have been engaging in various ocean initiatives such as the development of human resources who can arrest the crises facing our ocean.”

I announced three new initiatives to take us to the next stage of our work, starting with the NEXUS Program, which will be launched in April 2020. Under this program, The Nippon Foundation will work together with the University of Washington and over 100 research institutions involving 10,000 scientists−the world’s largest interdisciplinary ocean network−to strive to solve the most pressing ocean issues such as climate change and marine pollution that we currently face.

Under the second initiative, The Nippon Foundation will invite the leaders of close to 50 small island states to Japan in 2021 for what will be the first Small Island States Summit. This summit will serve as a platform to enable the voices of small island nations to be heard, and to encourage the development and implementation of policies based on scientific evidence. The idea is to involve the people whose lives are directly intertwined with the ocean and are the first to suffer the impact of climate change. 

The third initiative I advanced was The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Program, under which we are working with diverse stakeholders from around the world to map 100 percent of the Earth’s ocean floor. I mentioned that bold innovative initiatives were announced earlier in the week in London to drive this global movement to the next stage.

“From outer space, planet Earth is ‘one world’ and all of its inhabitants are ‘one family,’” I told the audience, concluding: “With this mindset, let us do our utmost to pass on a healthy and beautiful ocean to humanity 1,000 years and more into the future.”

While in Oslo, I also talked with the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvenstuen, Cabinet ministers from small island states in the West Indies as well as many other participants in the conference.


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Speaking at the Our Ocean 2019 Conference hosted by the Norwegian government in Oslo on October 23-24, 2019.

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With Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Oslo on October 24.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Announcing New Initiatives to Tackle Challenges Facing Oceans at Conferences in Europe (1) [2019年11月05日(Tue)]

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Addressing the symposium, From Vision to Action, sponsored by The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 in London on October 22, 2019.


I attended two important international conferences in Europe in late October to announce new initiatives to give fresh momentum to efforts to wrestle with challenges facing our oceans.

I first visited London to take part in a symposium, From Vision to Action, sponsored by The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 at the Royal Society on October 22.

The session was convened to report on the progress made in the two years since the Seabed 2030 project was launched in 2017 and to look to the remaining challenges in achieving the goal of mapping the entirety of the world’s ocean floor by the year 2030.

In my opening remarks, I noted the progress Seabed 2030 has made, saying: “The project was quick to gain momentum with many governments, research institutions and private entities promising their cooperation.”

In the short period of time since it was launched, Seabed 2030 has already seen a doubling of the bathymetric data available to produce the definitive map of the world’s oceans−an increase equivalent in size to the landmass of the entire African continent.

“We mustn’t forget that there is still a long road ahead to reach our goal of mapping 100 percent of the world’s ocean floor,” I went on, adding: “In working towards attaining this goal, there are three areas of focus that I would like to propose for further consideration.”

The first is facilitating the mapping of unexplored areas of the world. There are still large areas of the world where no mapping has been carried out. “I believe that it is vital for us to seek cooperation from both public and private sectors to facilitate mapping in these remote regions,” I said.

The second is collecting data through crowdsourcing. In order to speed up the collection of data, we need a larger number of participants. It may thus be useful to put in place a means by which even those with little or no expertise in this field can easily participate.

The third is advancing technology for data collection. Earlier this year, the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team won the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE competition by successfully building a solution that enabled rapid unmanned collection of data at a depth of 4,000 meters.

I believe that not only do we need unmanned solutions such as the ones that were developed during the XPRIZE competition, but we also need to come up with technology that allows for the wider public to participate in the collection of data.

Information about the ocean floor holds much potential for the future of our planet and for humanity. To give just a few examples, knowing the shape of the seabed contributes to safe navigation of ships, enables the identification of marine habitats and helps with the prediction of tsunami propagation as well as of the rise in sea levels.

It is my sincere hope that this symposium stimulated the development of new initiatives to accelerate the mapping of the ocean floor.


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The symposium was held at the prestigious Royal Society.


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Posing for a commemorative photo with the other speakers.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 16:18 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
A Textbook to Address the Crisis Facing Our Oceans [2019年10月03日(Thu)]

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Speaking at the Nippon Foundation Nereus Ocean Science Conference on September 15, 2019

I visited Princeton University in the United States in September to attend the final Nippon Foundation Nereus Ocean Science Conference and celebrate the publication of Predicting Future Oceans: Sustainability of Ocean and Human Systems Amidst Global Environmental Change.


The Nippon Foundation began the Nereus Program in 2011 together with the University of British Columbia, Princeton University and three other institutions to undertake an unprecedented initiative to predict the future of the oceans. It was expanded in 2014 and again in 2017 with the addition of 11 institutions, including Harvard University, bringing the total number of collaborative partners to 17.


The Nereus Program has been the world’s frontrunner in investigative scientific research into the marine environment and issued countless warnings to the world regarding the state of our oceans based on scientific evidence. Its work has been featured in some 300 publications, including Nature and Science, the program has been the subject of media coverage from around the world, and its researchers have made presentations at the United Nations and at other international meetings.


In my keynote address at the conference on September 15, I expressed my deepest gratitude to the 23 principal investigators, 46 research fellows and countless collaborators for completing this massive eight-year program. Embodying their achievements is this outstanding new book.


I sincerely hope that Predicting Future Oceans will serve as a textbook for ocean advocates around the world, and a powerful tool to explain the scientific evidence behind the crisis facing our oceans. It provides a synthesis of our knowledge on the future state of the oceans, includes recommendations on how to move forward, and highlights key social aspects linked to ocean ecosystems, including health, equity and sovereignty.


The survival of humankind depends greatly on the actions we take in response to the predictions made about the future of our oceans.


While Nereus Program may have come to an end, I told the audience that I valued “the global network that was built during this program, of experts with brilliant minds and a strong will to dedicate their passion and energy towards the oceans,” adding: “As the next step forward, we will continue to support the human network that was cultivated from the Nereus Program, and we will embark on a new interdisciplinary global initiative.”


After my speech in Princeton, I also participated in a special panel session on the future state of oceans with Nereus alumni.

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A group photo with the Nippon Foundation Nereus Program fellows and professors at the Princeton University.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 11:26 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Team Congratulated by Prime Minister Abe on Winning World Deep-sea Technology Competition [2019年09月27日(Fri)]

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A group photo of the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team, winner of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, taken at The Nippon Foundation on September 19, 2019.



I accompanied the GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team to pay a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his official residence on September 18 to report on the team’s winning of the international competition in deep-sea exploration technology, called the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.


As I introduced each member of the group to the Japanese leader, Mr. Abe congratulated us on winning the $4 million award.


Mr. Abe said he had wanted to go to the seafloor eversince he read as a child Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. It is crucial to explore the topography of the seabed if we are to make the most effective use of marine resources, the prime minister said, expressing his hope that we will make tangible progress to achieve our final goal of mapping the entirety of the world’s ocean floor by 2030.


The team, made up of 15 international graduates from 13 countries of The Nippon Foundation/GEBCO Postgraduate Training Program at the University of New Hampshire (UNH), spoke with Prime Minister Abe about the technology that they developed and how their model of international scientific cooperation can help to map the gaps that still remain in our understanding of the ocean floor.


They demonstrated their winning concept to Mr. Abe with scale replicas of the vessels that they used, as well as 3D visualizations of the data that they collected during the competition, and gave him a copy of the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) 2019 – the most recent version of the map of the world’s seabed.


Also joining us at our meeting with the prime minister was Team KUROSHIO, a Japanese team that placed second in the competition.


It is my sincere hope that the meeting will further strengthen the cooperation between the ocean mappers involved with GEBCO, scientists from Team KUROSHIO and Japanese officials as global efforts continue to map the ocean floor.


As Prime Minister Abe noted, understanding the bathymetry of the world’s oceans is imperative for improving maritime navigation, and also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources.  A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami, and better understand tides, wave action and sediment transport.


Working with all the stakeholders of the international ocean community, we are determined to do everything we can to achieve the goal of mapping the entire seabed by the end of the next decade.

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I asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to feel the weight (12 kilograms!)
of the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE trophy during our meeting on September 18, 2019.

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With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center) athis official residence in Tokyo on September 18, 2019.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Team Wins International Competition for Deep-Sea Exploration Technology [2019年08月23日(Fri)]

GEBCO-NF20Alumni20Team.jpgThe winning GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team


The GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team, comprising mostly graduates of an international scholarship program operated by The Nippon Foundation, has won an international competition in deep-sea exploration technology.

I was particularly proud of the award, the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, as a major important step to achieving the ambitious global goal of mapping one hundred percent of the ocean floor by the year 2030.


The final round of the competition was held among nine finalists in Kalamata, Greece. The award, which includes a prize of US$4 million, was presented at a ceremony at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco earlier this year.

In 2016 at the same museum in Monaco, The Nippon Foundation announced the project to completing the map of the world’s seabed by 2030.


The GEBCO-NF Team received first prize for their unmanned, high-resolution measurements of a 278.9 square kilometer area at a depth of 4,000 meters and successful production of a map of the measured area, all within 24 hours.


The Nippon Foundation has been partnering with GEBCO, the General Bathymetric Charter of the Oceans, since 2004 to nurture oceanography and bathymetry researchers at the University of New Hampshire. This program has produced 90 fellows from 39 countries, and 16 of these fellows, representing 13 countries, were part of the GEBCO-NF Team which won this prestigious award.


Understanding the bathymetry of the global ocean is imperative for improving maritime navigation, and also for enhancing our ability to predict climate change and monitor marine biodiversity and resources.  A comprehensive map of the seafloor will assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami, and better understand tides, wave action and sediment transport.


The Nippon Foundation, together with GEBCO, will use all of our collaborative efforts to reveal 100% of the ocean floor by 2030, of which we currently only know about 15%.


At the same time, we need the support of the international ocean community, including coastal states, international organizations and industries.  It is my sincere hope that we will all work together to bring this monumental goal of completing the map of the world’s seabed by 2030.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
Nurturing Experts to Cope with Increasingly Serious Ocean Issues [2019年08月21日(Wed)]

Our oceans are now facing increasingly serious challenges, attracting the international attention--the climate change, the ocean pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks, the dramatic decrease in phytoplankton due to the ocean acidification and the marine litter. Especially plastic waste has a considerable risk of disintegrating into nanoparticles through the food chain and thus ultimately can affect animals and humans. This is all the more difficult as it is hard to prove them scientifically. The issue is as diverse as exploitation of the seabed resources and development of technology to collect them.


Although our oceans are already “crying out for help” ahead of an era of the 10-billion world population, no specific actions have been taken as if we were still working on the assumption that as Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) defined in the 17th century “Mare liberum,” as calling for limitless freedom of the seas.


I am firmly convinced that to envisage the human life in 1000 to 2000 years ahead, it is critical to realize safe conservation of oceans. That being said, The Nippon Foundation that confronts the ocean, which accounts for 70% of the Earth, may be, as the Japanese old saying goes, just "a mantis ax,” meaning courageous, but doomed to be powerless.


During the past 30 years, The Nippon Foundation has provided young marine experts with Sasakawa scholarships, which now total some 1,300 from 141 countries of the world. Recently, we welcomed 30 recipients of the fellowships studying at the World Maritime University (WMU) of Sweden to come to Japan for training programs. They were a wide variety of experts from 28 countries−Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Columbia, Egypt, Georgia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia, Malvides, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Vanuatu and Vietnam. The Nippon Foundation has probably one of the world's leading network of marine human resources, including the top-notch oceanographers.


Japan, as an ocean state, should demonstrate its leadership in solving the world's maritime problems. The Nippon Foundation is making every effort day by day to play a part in this endeavor.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
I Joined World Cosplayers to Promote Ocean Debris Cleanup Event [2019年08月16日(Fri)]

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Yohei Sasakawa, as the character Luffy from the manga “One Piece,”

rallying the cosplayers to eliminate ocean debris.


“I am Luffy, and I’m searching for the pirate king. Lately, however, I see much trash when I sail the ocean. Trash from cities on land flows into the ocean.”



Dressed as Monkey D. Luffy from the manga series “One Piece” and imitating the character’s voice, this was how I exhorted some 430 cosplayers from around the world, including Italy, Mexico and Taiwan, who participated in the “Nationwide Cleanup Campaign” by domestic and foreign cosplayers at Tokyo Tower in central Tokyo recently as part of The Nippon Foundation’s Change for the Blue program.


For the day, we collected roughly 90 bags (2,700 liters) of trash in the area around Tokyo Tower. This was a one small but important step to clean up the oceans as one of the main themes of the event was to emphasize that roughly 80% of ocean debris flows into the ocean from cities and towns, meaning that reducing litter on land is essential to preventing ocean debris from accumulating.


It was also noted that globally, roughly 8 million tons of plastic debris flows into the ocean every year, and that if this trend continues, by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the ocean.


“Today, with cosplayers from around the world, let’s start working to eliminate ocean debris,” I declared, speaking as Monkey D. Luffy.


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Sasakawa (standing, fourth from right) with cosplayers of various nationalities.


5.jpgWith cosplayers


3.jpgWith cosplayers

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
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