Appointment of Ambassador in charge of Arctic Affairs
- On March 19, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointed Mr. Masuo Nishibayashi, Ambassador in charge of Cultural Exchange, to be concurrently in charge of Arctic Affairs.
- As Arctic sea ice has been melting at an accelerated rate in recent years due to climate change, possibilities for the commercial navigation of Arctic Ocean routes or development of natural resources in the Arctic Ocean are expanding. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that such activities may bring about a negative impact on the environment and the lives of inhabitants in the Arctic region, such as indigenous people. These changes in the Arctic are the focus of much international attention. Japan is located outside the Arctic region, but as a maritime state and one that attaches much importance to global environmental issues, it needs to be appropriately involved in international discussions regarding the Arctic.
- Ambassador Nishibayashi will attend Arctic Council meetings. He will also exchange views on Arctic policies with his international counterparts at various occasions.
The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum established in 1996 to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the eight Arctic States (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States of America), with the involvement of the indigenous Arctic communities and other Arctic inhabitants, on common Arctic issues; in particular, on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. It is explicitly confirmed that the Arctic Council should not deal with matters related to military security.
Japan submitted its application for observer status in the Council in July 2009.