OPRI database is an easy-to-use and comprehensive data search system that enables users to search all research and development activities, proposals and publications of OPRI, as well as information about ocean policies of individual countries collected at this OPRI website.
Our investigative studies aim to discuss the formulation of fundamental measures to promote comprehensive ocean management as outlined in the Basic Act on Ocean Policy. From fiscal 2007 to 2010, we discussed the state of legislative systems for the comprehensive management of the Exclusive Economic Zones and continental shelf, and compiled our findings into the "Proposal for Establishment of Legislative Systems Regarding the Comprehensive Management of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf." Following this, we have been discussing promotion measures on the comprehensive management of coastal areas to integrally grasp and appropriately manage the land and sea areas, where various issues, such as the conflict of interest accompanying the deterioration, development and use of the ocean environment, are occurring since fiscal 2011.
200 nautical-mile Exclusive Economic Zones, etc. are stipulated by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, etc. Under this ocean area management system, the island countries have the right to develop and use natural resources within their Exclusive Economic Zones designated based on the location of the islands. Furthermore, the countries are obliged to protect and conserve the marine environment including biological resources in their EEZs. Especially, there are many island countries in the Pacific Ocean, where vast Exclusive Economic Zones belong. This means that the island countries in the Pacific Ocean play an extremely important role from the standpoint of the management of the ocean.
The Basic Act on Ocean Policy entered into force in 2007, and the "Comprehensive Management of Coastal Areas" was stipulated in Article 25 of the Act. This was the first time when the concept was stipulated as a law in Japan. Through this action, comprehensive management of coastal areas was clearly defined as one of the 12 fundamental measures that Japan should promote, for which necessary measures must be taken.
Amid this situation, the new Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, which was established in April 2013, contains initiatives to be prioritized in "(5) Comprehensive management of sea areas and formulation of plans." It states that "measures should be promoted to manage land areas and sea areas in an integrated, comprehensive manner from the standpoint of, for instance, revitalizing the coastal areas, preserving and reclaiming the marine environment, taking countermeasures against natural disasters, and improving convenience for local residents."
Of the 12 fundamental measures specified in the Basic Act on Ocean Policy enacted in 2007, the 9th concerns the "Comprehensive Management of Coastal Areas," points out the importance of integrated management of land and sea areas and requires the appropriate measures to be taken by stating that "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 (Article 25)". In the view of cultivating necessary personnel to implement these management activities, we will endeavor to lay down the inter- and cross-disciplinary educational structures at various universities, to cultivate the talents who possess the expert knowledge to put the comprehensive management of coastal areas into practice.
Preserving healthy oceans for future generations requires people with a broad range of knowledge and capabilities, who are able to handle the various problems that arise in the oceans. Everywhere in the world, there is a pressing need to train these kinds of experts. At the same time as training the politicians and officials whose role it is to appropriately manage the oceans, as well as researchers and other specialists, it is vital to educate ordinary citizens to feel a connection with the oceans, so that they independently work to protect them. The Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) aims to encourage humanity to live in harmony with the oceans and supports education of the people required to meet this goal.
Recently, shrinking sea ice in the Arctic Ocean due to global warming and other environmental issues has garnered the attention of both Japan and the international community. Of particular interest is the prospect of linking Europe and Asia through the commercial development of the Northern Sea Route, which is approximately 60% shorter than southern routes passing through the Suez Canal and Straits of Malacca. In addition, countries are taking steps to develop the Arctic's yet-untapped natural resources, including abundant reserves of oil, natural gas, and mineral deposits. Going forward, Japan expects the Arctic Ocean to play an increasingly pivotal role in its economic growth.
As the importance of sealanes as main arteries for the global economy continues to increase, marine resources are being actively developed in response to the surge in demand for food and energy supplies. While all countries continue to deepen their involvement with the ocean, the maritime security environment is currently extremely unstable, given the threat of piracy to marine transportation, disputes between states over territorial rights to islands and border demarcations for jurisdictional rights over ocean space, and the effects on ocean areas of historical land-based conflicts, etc.
In pursuit of harmonious co-existence between humanity and the oceans, OPRI addresses various issues relating to the marine environment in order to construct and implement the twelve basic measures set out in the Basic Act on Ocean Policy.
The Ocean Policy Research Institute, a think-and-do tank for ocean issues, puts great effort into disseminating information on the ocean to ensure that the fruits of its scientific research and policy proposals are made use of by society. Through this active dissemination of scientific research results, policy proposals, and domestic and overseas activities regarding the oceans, it not only helps promote ocean policies but works to increase knowledge and understanding, as well as encourage public debate, about the ocean among the population at large.