About OPRI

Staff Members

Atsushi Watanabe
Ocean Policy Research Institute
(Division of Ocean Policy Research)

Senior Program Officer
Atsushi Watanabe
Atsushi Watanabe studied geography and earth and planetary science at the University of Tokyo. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the graduate school of environmental studies at Nagoya University from 2004 to 2007 and at the Hydrospheric Atmospheric Research Center (HyARC) at Nagoya University from 2007 to 2008, and as an assistant professor at the graduate school of information science and engineering at Tokyo Institute of Technology from 2008-2018. He studied material (especially carbon) cycles in coral reefs, coastal seas, and coastal blue carbon ecosystems and the impact of climate change or local stressors on these ecosystems. Since 2018, he has been working as a senior research fellow of the Ocean Policy Research Institute of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, leading the blue economy and blue carbon policy researches. His current research interest is the policies to strengthen resilience of coastal communities through sustainable use of coastal ecosystems and resources and the creation of economically viable livelihoods. He acts as a councilor of the International Coral Reef Society and a representative of the Japanese Coral Reef Society. He holds a doctor degree in Science (2004, Univ. Tokyo).
He spent one year in Maryland, USA, when he was 12-13 years old, where he had his first direct contact with foreign people and culture. Throughout his academic career, he undertook intensive and extensive fieldwork in Okinawa, Palau, the Philippines, Indonesia, and elsewhere. He also has experienced over 20 research cruises in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines for conducting oceanographic observation in the Japan Sea, East China Sea, and the Philippine Sea. During his early career, he was shocked by the worldwide coral bleaching event that occurred in 1998-1999, mainly caused by anomalously high sea surface temperatures which deteriorated coral reefs globally. Experiencing this event moved him into scientific research on coastal ecosystems’ response to human impacts. He was also fascinated by the long-term monitoring of CO2 by Dr. Charles Keeling, which clearly showed not only long-term increases in CO2 due to human activities but also the “breathing” of the Earth in which the forest draws down CO2 during summer and releases it during winter.


  • Blue Carbon
  • Blue Economy
  • Coastal Oceanography
  • Coral Reef Material Circulation and Climate Change
Dan Smale, Mads Thomsen, Scott Bennett, Carlos Duarte, Aaron Eger, Karen Filbee-Dexter, Brendan Flack, Hege Gundersen, Kasper Hancke, Christopher Hepburn, Anne-Marie Jackson, Nathan King, Camille Lavoie, Pippa Moore, Kjell Norderhaug, Kathryn Schoenrock, Albertus Smit, Julio Vásquez, Atsushi Watanabe, J. Pérez-Lloréns (2016) Biodiversity and ecosystem services. In. Into the Blue: Securing a sustainable future for kelp forests. In book: Into the Blue: Securing a sustainable future for kelp forests (pp.46-70) Publisher: UNEP
Atsushi Watanabe, Tomohiro Kuwae, Carlos M. Duarte, Ryo Kohsaka, Jay Mar D. Quevedo, and Hiromichi Nagai (2023) Blue Carbon Roadmap: Carbon Captured by the World’s Coastal and Ocean Ecosystems (ICEF Innovation Roadmap Project)
Mino, Y., Sukigara, C., Watanabe, A. et al.(2023) Rapid increase of surface water pCO2 revealed by settling particulate organic matter carbon isotope time series during 2001–2009 in Sagami Bay, Japan. J Oceanogr 79, 317–331. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10872-023-00688-3
Tomohiro Kuwae, Atsushi Watanabe, Satoru Yoshihara, Fujiyo Suehiro, Yoshihisa Sugimura (2022) Implementation of blue carbon offset crediting for seagrass meadows, macroalgal beds, and macroalgae farming in Japan. Marine Policy, Volume 138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2022.104996
 Kurihara, H., Watanabe, A., Tsugi, A. et al. Potential local adaptation of corals at acidified and warmed Nikko Bay, Palau. Sci Rep 11, 11192 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-90614-8
If you would like to read more, click here.
Watanabe A. and Nakamura T. (2018): A Book chapter "Carbon dynamics in coral reefs" in "Blue Carbon in Shallow Coastal Ecosystems: Carbon Dynamics, Policy, and Implementation" (Tomohiro Kuwae and Masakazu Hori ed., Springer)


Academic/Professional Background
Academic Society etc.
  • Councilor of the International Coral Reef Society (2019-now) 
  • a representative of the Japanese Coral Reef Society (2019-now)
Professional Background
  • Assistant Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology (2008-2018)
  • Post-doctoral fellow at Nagoya University (2004-2008)
Academic Background
  • Doctor of Science (2004 University of Tokyo)
  • Master of Science (2001 University of Tokyo)
  • Bachelor of Science (1999 University of Tokyo)


Japanese, English

Page Top