The Basic Act on Ocean Policy was established in the 166th ordinary session of the Diet in 2007. Japan's ocean policies were deliberated in the Lower House Committee on Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on April 3, 2007, and following this, the chairperson proposed a bill for the Basic Act on Ocean Policy. Passed unanimously, the bill was placed on the agenda for the plenary session on that day, passing by a majority vote with support by all parties except the Social Democratic Party. Then sent to the Upper House, the bill passed by a majority vote in the Committee on Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism on April 19, 2007, and in the plenary session held on April 20, 2007. The bill was enacted in a timely manner, on just the 17th day from the proposal of the bill, and was enforced on July 20, 2007.
The Headquarters for Ocean Policy was established within the Cabinet for the intensive and comprehensive implementation of ocean-related policies in accordance with the Basic Act on Ocean Policy. It consists of the Prime Minister as the director-general, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Minister for Ocean Policy as the vice directors-general, and all Ministers of State other than the above three as constituents. The Headquarters for Ocean Policy develops a bill for the mid-to-long term "Basic Plan on Ocean Policy" and promotes execution of the plan. In order to build its administrative framework, a preparatory office for a secretariat of the Headquarters was established within the Cabinet Secretariat, which was then officially launched as the secretariat of the Headquarters on July 20, 2007. The secretariat comprises, including the head, just over 30 members who are externally assigned from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Japan Coast Guard, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Ministry of Defense, among others. The "Coordination Office for the Continental Shelf Surveys" (composed of 19 members including the head and those having two posts) was set up within the Cabinet Secretariat on December 8, 2003, in order for the government to unite to propel extension of the bounds of continental shelves. However, since the task became one of the crucial tasks of the newly established Headquarters for Ocean Policy, the office was integrated into the secretariat of the Headquarters.
On April 26, 2013, the new Basic Plan on Ocean Policy was approved by the Cabinet, which made the year an important turning point for implementation of Japan's ocean policies. The Basic Act on Ocean Policy stipulates that the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy should be reviewed roughly every 5 years. The review of this time had a great significance because it needed to deal with the following issues: (1) Japan's first Basic Plan on Ocean Policy formulated in 2008 was not necessarily satisfactory, as it had several issues such as many of the measures listed lacked concreteness, owing to a short period of time given to consider them to be included in the plan and; (2) After the formulation of the plan, international situation concerning resources, economies, environment, ocean management etc. has changed, and the new situations have emerged following several incidents including the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.