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.
Promoting Ocean Education in Schools
At the same time as receiving great bounty from the oceans, humanity also has a considerable effect on the marine environment. Living in harmony with the oceans is a major issue for citizens, and the Basic Act on Ocean Policy includes "enhancement of citizens' understanding of the oceans" among its measures, encouraging the promotion of school education with regard to the oceans. Cultivating a correct awareness of the relationship between the oceans and humanity as well as the knowledge, skills, and decision-making and expressive abilities to allow sustainable development and use of the oceans based on preservation of the marine environment and international understanding is also in line with the twenty-first century capabilities targeted in future school education.
Promoting active person-to-person relationships and constructing networks with foreign specialists on maritime transportation and vessels are central to strengthening and effectively expanding international exchange and cooperation in ocean-related fields. This is why the Ocean Policy Research Institute is working to train international talent and build networks, while constantly endeavoring to achieve closer ties with countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
One part of these efforts is to offer fellowships to students at the World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden. WMU is a postgraduate maritime university founded by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1983 and attended primarily by people from developing countries who are involved with maritime affairs. They strive to attain advanced knowledge in such fields as Maritime Law & Policy; Maritime Safety & Environmental Administration; Maritime Education & Training; Shipping Management; Port Management; Maritime Energy Management; and Ocean Sustainability, Governance & Management. In addition to supporting the training of international talent in maritime affairs, OPRI runs the "Friends of WMU, Japan" Secretariat, which helps graduates to build networks. As of March 2016, 553 students from 66 different countries have been granted fellowships. Following completion of their courses, they play leading roles in maritime affairs at important posts in their countries' governments, educational institutions, and other bodies.