It was the second workshop to be hosted, following the first last year, as part of the activities of the "Study Group for the Future of the Arctic," established by the three organizations in 2016. The workshop aimed to discuss the future of the Arctic from the perspectives of conservation, use, and sustainable development of the region, in addition to discussing how Asian countries, including Japan, can cooperate in these areas, and make clear what measures Japan should prioritize. Invited speakers included H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Chairman of the Arctic Circle and former President of Iceland, as well as officials and experts from seven countries in the Arctic region (U.S.A., Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland), four of the Asian observer states to the Arctic Council (Japan, China, Singapore, India), and the European Union, with total attendance of approximately 110 people over the course of two days.
Group photo of the officials and panelists
Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, gave the opening remarks, followed by the keynote speech from H.E. Mr. Tetsuma Esaki, (then) Minister of State for Ocean Policy, and special remarks by H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Chairman of the Arctic Circle and former President of Iceland. Presentations and discussions were held in the sessions that followed, titled "Environment (Integration of Science-Technology and Policy for Issues on Arctic Environment," which was open to the media, and "Business (Potential of Arctic Business and Resource Development," held in a closed format under Chatham House Rules.
Opening remarks by Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation
Keynote speech by H.E. Mr. Tetsuma Esaki, (then) Minister of State for Ocean Policy
Special remarks by H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Chairman of the Arctic Circle and former President of Iceland
Discussions in the session open to the media
On the second day, there were presentations and discussions on the Session "International Cooperation (Expectations for and Roles of Asian Countries for Arctic Cooperation)," followed by a wrap-up session, all held in a closed format under Chatham House Rules. Following the two days of discussions, H.E. Grímsson raised three major points on outlooks and issues for the Arctic region. In short, the points raised were: 1) while there is primarily a national-based scientific effort that enhances the pride of each country in terms of what they contribute to the science, it is time to have a systematic discussion on coordination and cooperation in the Arctic, and develop a Pan-Arctic scientific effort, 2) there is considerable economic activity and scaling up of investment and economic plans in the Arctic, whether it is investment in various energy resources, the build-up of the Northern Sea Route, growing tourism, or other aspects, and 3) Japan, China, and South Korea, among other so-called "observer states," have already established strong positions in Arctic cooperation, and intend to expand those. In response to these points, there were several comments from the other speakers in the workshop, highlighting the need for continued discussions among the various stakeholder nations, with opportunities similar to those of the present workshop, and also touching on future hopes for more involvement by Asian states. Following these comments, the two-day workshop was brought to a close.
H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson (C) and Dr. Atsushi Sunami (L), President of OPRI-SPF, also held a press conference on the first day of the workshop.
1) On the "Study Group for the Future of the Arctic": In 2016, The Nippon Foundation, GRIPS and OPRI-SPF established the "Study Group for the Future of the Arctic" in order to consider ways in which Japan could tackle the "Arctic Issue." In this study group, approximately 80 members from a variety of sectors come together for discussions by industry leaders and distinguished Arctic researchers from the natural and social sciences, with observers including representatives from relevant national government ministries and agencies, local governments, as well as Members of Parliament.
2) In January 2018, Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, Chairman of The Nippon Foundation, and Dr. Sunami, on behalf of the Study Group, delivered a policy recommendation titled "Japan's Future Priority Areas of Arctic Policy" to H.E. Mr. Tetsuma Esaki, (then) Minister of State for Ocean Policy.
3) For information on OPRI-SPF's programs on the Arctic Ocean, please see here.
The Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (OPRI-SPF)