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Japan asked to join new Arctic shipping regime

Japan asked to join new Arctic shipping regime

Tokyo: The U.S. Arctic Research Commission has called upon Japan to join hands with the United States and other Arctic states in ongoing multilateral efforts to create a new shipping regime in the Arctic Ocean, writes The Japan Times. Mead Treadwell, chairman of the commission made the recommendation, stating that international cooperation is vital to ensure that shipping in the Arctic is "safe, secure and reliable".

As a result of receding sea ice, caused by global warming, the Arctic is expected to open up for global shipping in the future. This will present strategic options for Japan's industry in light of shorter shipping routes from Japan to Europe via the Arctic Ocean, Treadwell said at a media conference in Tokyo.

The eight-nation Arctic Council, established in 1996 as a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation among Arctic states, is currently working on an Arctic marine shipping assessment, due to be completed in 2009, according to Treadwell. The council's member states are the U.S., Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

Aware of the strategic importance, China and South Korea have already joined the Arctic Council as observers and Treadwell recommended that Japan do likewise.  [07/11/08]