The former Ocean Policy Research Foundation (OPRF) engaged in activities directly supporting schools from fiscal 2003 to fiscal 2006. It reached the conclusion that to make ocean education standard─as broad diffusion was difficult without sharing the concept and its significance among those involved at schools and whole areas─it was important to promote sharing of the idea in a top-down as well as bottom-up fashion. Consequently, it held specific discussions with both education and maritime specialists, producing a proposal with concrete suggestions regarding future ocean education that was presented to Minister for Ocean Policy Tetsuzo Fuyushiba and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Kisaburo Tokai on February 19, 2008. As well as providing a clear definition and concept for ocean education, the proposal identified five areas that needed to be addressed: clarification of the content of the education, development of the educational environment, expansion of external support systems, training of human resources, and promotion of educational research.
In the three years from fiscal 2008, as part of research activities targeting the construction of curriculums in Japan, with the cooperation of education and MEXT specialists OPRF produced the Grand Design for Ocean Education in the Twenty-First Century, comprising elementary, junior high, and high school sections. This document defined the concept of ocean education─which had until then been ambiguous─and presented a clear and consistent education curriculum. This first ever fully-developed Japanese ocean education curriculum drew much attention from many quarters and contributed to raising the profile of the field among the nation's educators.
In March 2012, OPRF and the Nippon Foundation worked together with the University of Tokyo Ocean Alliance RCME to conduct a survey on ocean education at elementary and junior high schools. The survey was sent to all 32,010 elementary and junior high schools in Japan, asking questions on such topics as the current level and content of their ocean education, how that was affected by their location and area, what expectations and needs they had regarding the field, how aware they were of the Basic Act on Ocean Policy, and how their teaching in the field had been affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Replies were received from 6,706 schools.
Before the March 2013 revision of the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, OPRF worked together with the Nippon Foundation to produce a proposal regarding ocean education, as related to this revision. It presented the proposal at the ninth meeting of the Basic Act on Ocean Policy Strategic Study Group on July 31, 2012, and also to Minister for Ocean Policy Yuichiro Hata, via the Secretariat of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy, on September 25 of the same year. The proposal comprised three main suggestions: enhancing curriculums, developing the teaching environment, and expanding external support.
In July 2013, OPRF participated in the Nippon Foundation's Ocean Education Strategy Council meeting of experts, set up with the aim of discussing and debating overall strategies for advancing ocean education, and took part in talks about its expansion in the Courses of Study. The results of the meeting were collated into a proposal entitled "The Necessity of Fixing Ocean Education in the Courses of Study" and presented to the MEXT Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau, the Comprehensive Ocean Strategy Subcommittee of the Liberal Democratic Party's Policy Research Council, and the Secretariat of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy in April 2014. It was also presented to the Basic Act on Ocean Policy Strategic Study Group and other bodies in May 2014, and handed directly to Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology Hakubun Shimomura on October 14 of the same year.
As well as the proposal and reports listed above, we produce supplementary readers, introductory books, and similar works to make it easy to discuss the oceans in the classroom.