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!