Thursday, 17 March 2011

A Word of Appreciation

As most readers of this blog are long followers of Japan’s role in promoting effective ocean governance, I’m sure you are all aware of the earthquake and tsunami that struck the northeast region of Japan on March 11th. . This conjunction of natural disasters caused enormous damage that resulted in more than ten thousand fatalities. Many more people have lost their homes and are now enduring harsh conditions in emergency evacuation shelters.

Since the earthquake, we have received many expressions of concern and encouragement from friends and colleagues abroad. I would like here to express my sincerest appreciation for your remembering us in this trying time.

Here at OPRF, we are going about our normal routines, as our building fortunately incurred no more than a few slight cracks in some of the windows. I am happy to report that all of our staff and their families are also safe and well.

Beginning with enquiries from the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, many of our friends have expressed their desire to send donations, and enquired as to what might be the most appropriate relief organization. In this regard, if you wish to support victims of the disaster, I would highly recommend the CANPAN initiative of The Nippon Foundation, as they have long experience in making sure that aid gets to those who need it most.

Thank you for your continued interest in the work we do at OPRF. As Japan recovers from this disaster, I look forward to working with all those committed to creating a safer and more sustainable order on the oceans around the world.

Thank you,

Hiroshi Terashima

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

International interest in Japanese Ocean Policies and a joint seminar with ANCORS

For the last couple of months, we have been organizing a joint seminar on comparative studies of Japan and Australia’s national ocean policies, an idea initially proposed by the Australian National Center for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS). What follows is some information about the background of this seminar and my thoughts on the subject.

In 1998, Australia announced its National Ocean Policy and took a leading position internationally in advanced ocean management. The policy made ‘caring, understanding, using wisely’ its motto in advancing integrated ocean management on a national scale. However, this ocean policy was adopted without first establishing a legal foundation, as in the case of Japan (we enacted the Basic Act on Ocean Policy in 2007). Partially because of this lack, some say there have been problems in the implementation of the policy and suggest there is a need to revise the policy as it has been ten years since it came out. ANCORS’s proposal to hold the joint seminar stems from the realization that a significant number of ocean policy experts in Australia share this view. For OPRF too, it would be an ideal opportunity to learn more about the implementation of Australia’s Ocean Policy over the last ten years, knowledge that we hope to profitably apply to the future progress of Japan’s own Ocean Policy. I am very much looking forward to this seminar, which will be held in Wollongong.

Also ANCORS is collaborating with us as one of our partner institutes on another project we started this fiscal year, concerning the management and conservation of Pacific Islands and their surrounding marine environment.

Interestingly, it is not only Australia that is closely observing foreign ocean policies and ocean management activities these days. Many countries are searching out knowledge and information that could be useful in developing comprehensive management activities, as they are now being urged to tackle marine issues in accordance with international rules and frameworks. For this reason, the Japanese Basic Act on Ocean Policy is gaining more international attention from academics and policy-makers, as it is considered an advanced approach toward meeting the current needs of ocean management.

For instance, at the inaugural Asia Pacific Meeting for UN Nippon Foundation Fellowship Alumni, both alumni and participating academics, including Professor John Duff from the U.S. and Professor Ronan Long from Ireland, showed great interest when I presented my paper on the background and content of Japanese Ocean Policy. I was very grateful for their reaction (which I did not anticipate). I will present a similar paper at the EAS congress 2009 in November, in Manila. Hopefully, it will generate the same level of enthusiasm among the audience.

As a person who have been working hard to implement the Basic Act and Plan on Japanese Ocean Policy, it is rewarding to come across both academic and political interest from abroad on what we have done for Japanese ocean policy. I am hoping through international communication/discussion to broadly share the knowledge and experiences we have all acquired in the implementation of ocean policy. By doing so, I’m sure we will advance the future development of ocean management around the world.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Coordinating Ocean and Aerospace Policies

The Aerospace Basic Plan was determined on 2 June 2009. It is the first Basic Plan since the enactment of the Aerospace Basic Act in May 2008.

From 2005 to 2007, when we were lobbying for the enactment of the Basic Act on Ocean Policy on the basis of our proposals to achieve comprehensive management and sustainable use of the ocean, we had opportunities to exchange ideas with parliamentarians who were striving for the enactment of the Aerospace Basic Act.

The oceans and aerospace are both international areas. Furthermore, since there was no Basic Plan or national strategy with respect to the exploration, use, preservation and management of these spaces, we felt a certain camaraderie, encouraged each other, and even enjoyed some friendly competition in our goal to realize the enactment of these Acts.

In the end, the Basic Act on Ocean Policy was adopted through the parliamentarian-led process in advance of the Aerospace Basic Act, which had been taken up earlier. The Aerospace Basic Act was also adopted through the parliamentarian-led process in 2008, one year after the Basic Act on Ocean Policy.

As stated above, oceans and aerospace found their cooperation fruitful with regard to the enactment of the Basic Acts. They have close links with each other in policy development as well.

Spatial information is needed for the exploitation, use, preservation and management of the vast oceans. To identify a location in the water-covered, unmarked oceans, we must make use of satellites. In addition, satellites are needed to monitor, inter alia, water temperature, ocean currents and ocean colour, information which is necessary to understand the status of oceans and their resources, as well as to conduct surveillance and law-enforcement activities in the territorial sea, the EEZ, and other areas. Furthermore, satellites are being called on to improve communication service for ships in navigation, for which it is difficult to secure fixed infrastructures, as well as for remote islands.

Although the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy explicitly provides for the use of satellites [and other space-related technology] only in Chapter 2, Measure 6, it is essential for the promotion inter alia of surveys, exploitation, use, and preservation and management of oceans to utilize various types of satellite for positioning, topographical surveys, observation and communications.

With the enactment of the Aerospace Basic Plan following the adoption of the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, initiatives have been launched to consider ways to coordinate oceans and space policies. From an oceans perspective, as we have just entered the stage of promoting comprehensive ocean policy, this is a timely development indeed. This is needed not only for the promotion of comprehensive management and sustainable development of the sea areas of Japan, but also for the development of international cooperation in ocean affairs.

It affords a real pleasure to be able to realistically discuss such a grand idea as collaboration between ocean and space policies!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Field trips for Integrated Coastal Management Project

Part 1 (OKAYAMA)
As a part of ICM (Integrated Coastal Management) project that OPRF have started this fiscal year, I went to Okayama, a prefecture by the Seto Inland Sea and the Shima-city, which is famous for pearl aquaculture. Both field trips were to study the perception of stakeholders (including fishers, NPO and government officials) about Integrated Coastal Management.
In Okayama, we met a few governmental officials of Okayama prefectural government, including Mr. Tanaka from the Fisheries department and Mr Otsuka from the department of port. The discussion was mainly about their recent change of the shoreline management Plan in 2008. The designing of the plan was ordered by the central government (and all prefecture in fact designed their own shoreline management plan) according to the Coast Act, which claims the need to protect the shoreline, to conserve the environment and to promote the better use of the coastal resource. We also talked about a marine wrench they set recently and the problem with shoreline waste.
Okayama’s shoreline management plan is unique in the way it involved the zoning of the coastal area. The plan divides the coastal area into 12 zones according to their environmental and socio-economical coherence. Also, this zoning includes both marine and land area as the plan considers the connection through the river to the coast and then the whole Seto inland Sea important. I found that what this shoreline management plan demonstrates in the zoning shares similar features with the concept of comprehensive coastal management stated in the Basic Ocean Plan of the ocean policy (art. 25).
While we were in Okayama, we also visited marine ranch at Shiroisi Islands which has helped the fish population increased but it has also attracted non-commercial (no-licensed) fishers who come to catch those fish that have been fed and cared for commercial purposes. However those local commercial fishers have no means to regulate them.
We also saw an interesting and typical case of management difficulty of Japanese coastal and river area. In one area we visited in Kurashiki-city in Okayama, there is a discharge of water coming out of small reservoir type of river through an artificial gate to the big river which directly connects to the sea. In terms of the management jurisdiction, the big river belongs to the state, the small reservoir belongs to the city and the gate belongs to the prefecture so this problem of pollution should really be dealt with by three management authorities integrately however, contradictively since it goes through three jurisdictions, and because of this complexity no one wants to take the initiative to solve the problem. The pollution is still going on and it has been damaging biological productivity of the big river, and it needs to be solved immediately.
It was a very meaningful trip to realize how much urgent it is to implement ICM for the health of Japanese coast.

Continues to the blog about Shima trip…

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Visit to WMU (1) – 27th Meeting of the Board of Governors, the new President and Sasakawa Fellows

I left Narita airport on 24 May 2009 to attend the 27th Meeting of the Board of Governors of the World Maritime University (WMU).

Established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 1983, WMU was originally aimed at promoting capacity-building in maritime affairs for developing States. It has developed greatly in the past 26 years. Now, the university is recognized as a unique maritime educational forum that seeks to engage in education, research and human resource development on a global scale.

Human resource development is also one of the top priorities for the Nippon Foundation. The WMU Sasakawa Fellowships Programme is considered one of the most successful human resource development programmes. I was in charge of this programme at the Nippon Foundation and, thereafter, closely observed the development of the Programme as a Board member of WMU. I am pleased to see the huge success of the capacity-building programme over a mid- to long-term range.

The students studying in WMU’s Master programme (2 years) come from countries all over the world and specialize in maritime law and policy, safety and the environment, education and training, shipping management, port management, and the marine environment. One noteworthy characteristic of WMU is the diverse background of its students: generally, they have worked with governmental authorities in the maritime sector, companies and other private entities in that sector, and maritime or ocean-related universities. They study at WMU to acquire advanced, expert knowledge and, after graduation, remain involved in related fields in their own countries.

The Sasakawa Fellowships Programme annually offers scholarships to around 25 students for the 2-year period. Over the past 21 years, 424 graduates from 53 countries have benefited from the Programme and they are working in the maritime sector in various countries as well as in inter-governmental organizations such as the IMO. This year, 27 Sasakawa Fellows in the Class of 2010 began their studies.

In the evening, I was surprised to see new President Bjorn Kjerfve when we arrived at the students’ accommodation, the Henrik Smith Hostel. Despite his busy schedule, he took time to join us, together with Nippon Foundation Chair professors Nakazawa, Linden and Schroeder and Vice President Bruce Brown (in charge of student registration). We took group photos with the Fellows in the front garden of the Hostel.

Apart from the President’s surprise visit, which we greatly appreciated, we felt that the conversation session planned by the Sasakawa Fellows was well organized. All in all, I renewed my belief that the students from all over the world studying together at WMU and establishing personal networks will significantly contribute to the development of maritime activities around the globe.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Marine Education and a path of hope

Perhaps because I spent my childhood surrounded by mountains, I developed a longing for the ocean from early in life. This could also be the influence of my uncle, who was a ship’s captain and occasionally brought my family cheese and bananas, which were still rare in those lean days right after the war. Surely, I was also moved by adventure stories like Robinson Crusoe. But I think the ocean I saw in my mind’s eye was something more than that: it felt like a path of hope projecting into the future.

To return to more recent days, on June 2nd, we visited Mr Kanamori, Director-General, Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau, at the Ministry of Education,Science and Culture to deliver a policy proposal on the promotion of Marine Education in primary education. We provided him with the ‘21st Century Grand-Design for Marine Education in Primary Education’, the fruit of OPRF’s working group on Japanese Marine Education. .

This policy proposal is part of our activities promoting marine education, which we have been carrying out in fulfillment of Article 28 of the Japanese Basic Act on Ocean Policy. In fact, the first study group on marine education got under way in 2007, and set out to realize what Article 28 stipulates regarding marine education. In 2008, we provided the same Ministry with our initial policy proposal on the promotion of Marine Education. The Grand-Design that we presented this week was a sequel to this previous effort.

The main part of the Grand-Design is a curriculum on Marine Education (which I hope the readers of this blog will take interest in). It is created in line with the current National Guideline for Primary Education. The content of the Grand-Design also provides a road map for developing external associations leading to collaborative educational programs. Hence, the Grand-design was created to be useful for both schools and outside organizations who are interested in supporting primary marine education.

Director-General, Mr Kanamori listened to our policy proposal in a positive manner and gave us promising comments on the future promotion of marine education in primary schools, which was very encouraging.

It has been more than 50 years since I dreamt of the ocean in my boyhood days. Japan now is a prosperous place and children need no longer nurture their dreams with only their imaginations and knowledge they can gain from limited experiences. For these children, I believe we should provide first-hand opportunities to learn about the blessings the ocean provides. I sincerely hope that our study on Marine Education will help develop inspiring experiences in primary education and enhance future generations’ appreciation of the sea.