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Research and Proposals on Ocean Policies and Measures
OPRI is investigating and researching the measures that need to be taken in each area of the fundamental measures outlined in the Basic Act on Ocean Policy to integrally and systematically cope with ocean issues that our country is currently facing, and making the necessary recommendations based on these findings. The main proposals OPRI has made to the government are outlined below.
In particular, OPRI places importance on the fundamental measures in the Basic Act on Ocean Policy where it is unclear which particular governmental organization is in charge of these issues. These include the development, use and conservation of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), integrated coastal management, and the promotion of ocean education, among others. OPRI has investigated and conducted research on these topics, and has compiled these results in its proposals.
How coastal areas will be developed, used and conserved in regard to the EEZ specified pursuant to the new international legislative system is a new undertaking not only for Japan, but also for other countries. In response to this development, OPRI investigated and researched initiatives in other nations in addition to having a committee of experts examine what legislative framework our country should establish in relation to ocean management, and based on the results, OPRI made two policy proposals. The results were also presented in deliberations of the PT advisory conference for the Headquarters for Ocean Policy.
As for Japan's coastal areas, "Integrated Coastal Management (ICM)," which integrally manages land and sea areas, was incorporated in "Agenda 21," the action plan adopted by the Rio Earth Summit and the Rio+20 outcome document "The Future We Want," and has also been established as a fundamental measure for the Basic Act on Ocean Policy in Japan. However, as our country has only barely scratched the surface of the initiative, OPRI is taking actions to research the systematization of ICM to raise public awareness. At the same time, OPRI is implementing model site projects to support the municipal governments that strive to reconstruct regions and engage in ICM in each area. Furthermore, OPRI is collaborating with local universities to develop human resources to deal with this issue, through actions such as the introduction of ICM courses. In regard to these developments, in March 2013 OPRI presented the "Policy Proposal Regarding the Promotion of ICM." With the revision of the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy in April 2013, the specifics regarding ICM were changed, proposing to "make efforts to comprehensively manage land areas and marine zones together in accordance with regional peculiarities with the participation, coordination and collaboration of many different players based on independence of individual regions."
We also believe that preserving healthy oceans for the future requires educating people with a broad range of knowledge and capabilities, who are able to handle the various problems that arise in the oceans. We have been engaged in promotion of ocean education in Japanese schools from early on. With the passing of the Basic Act on Ocean Policy, we held specific discussions with both education and maritime specialists, producing the Proposal to Make Ocean Education Standard in Schools, which was presented to the Minister for Ocean Policy and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology in February 2008. From 2009 to 2011, we played a major role in the development of ocean education in Japan, especially by creating the first ever fully-developed and systematic Japanese ocean education curriculum, the Grand Design for Ocean Education in the Twenty-First Century, comprising the elementary, junior high, and high school sections. Also, the Proposal Regarding Ocean Education Targeting Revision of the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, made by OPRF and the Nippon Foundation in 2012, had a potent influence on the revision of the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, and the description of ocean education in the Basic Plan was expanded as a consequence.
Environmental issues in island countries are not simply problems for islands in the ocean. We must understand that these are issues including the management of surrounding ocean areas obligated for island countries under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and those concerning climate change which cannot be solved by the nation alone. Therefore, we submitted a joint policy recommendation "For The Better Conservation and Management of Islands and Their Surrounding Ocean Areas" together with the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) Office in October 2011. Through this recommendation, regarding the management of islands and surrounding ocean areas, OPRI proposes that island countries and the international community cooperate and collaborate to share knowledge and awareness of the issues, and examine the direction of future actions. Furthermore, we presented the policy recommendation on the "Conservation and Management of Islands and Their Surrounding Ocean Areas" to government officials of our country as well as the general public in March 2012, which summarized the goals that need to be accomplished from Japan's perspective.