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.