Strengthening polar research cooperation between Norway and Japan

"This is bilateral cooperation in the true sense of the term," says Mr. Kjellemo. “This marks the fourth time we are organising this type of event with Japan. Now we have Japanese partners with us in all stages of planning, so this is bilateral cooperation in the true sense of the term,” states Bjørn Tore Kjellemo, Director of the Department for Cooperation and Development Research at the Research Council of Norway.

Norway and Japan share common interests in the Arctic and collaborate closely on research activities. The countries also have shared interests in the areas of shipping and management of marine resources.

“Both Norway and Japan have long traditions in polar research and a variety of shared interests in the Arctic. Japan is certainly not becoming any less important as an actor now that the northern sea route is opening up,” says Camilla Schreiner, Director of the Department for Climate and Polar Research.

New Arctic research strategy paves the way for greater cooperation "This is a good time to organise a major common meeting place," says Ms. Schreiner. (Photo: Norges forskningsråd)
Last year, Japan launched a new research strategy for the Arctic. During the official presentation, Prime Minister Abe stressed that Japan needs to take active part in the efforts to design international regulations relating to the Arctic, and that the country must strengthen its international and bilateral cooperation on issues concerning the northern areas.

The Japanese research programme “Arctic Challenge for Sustainability” is an important component in implementing the national strategy. The programme runs until March 2019 and has an overall budget of USD 10 million for the duration of the programme period.

Measured in terms of research publications, Norway is the world’s fifth largest nation in polar research overall and the third in Arctic research. The country’s central position in these areas makes it a very relevant partner for Japan in the Arctic.

“Japan’s new research strategy offers many opportunities for further developing this cooperation. This is a good time to organise a major common meeting place,” Ms Schreiner adds.

Sustainability on the agenda
Sustainability will be a recurring theme throughout the programme for Japan-Norway Arctic Science and Innovation Week. The main topics will be the challenges related to infrastructure and Arctic maritime operations, the scope of climate change and links between the climate in the Arctic and in Asia, marine resources and marine biology. One session will also be dedicated to Norwegian-Japanese cooperation in the Antarctic.

“This programme is a result of cooperation between Norwegian and Japanese actors. Representatives of the scientific community have helped to design the programme from the Norwegian side,” Ms Schreiner states.

The Japanese participation is being coordinated by Japan's National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) together with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) and Hokkaido University.

The Tokyo-based event brings together Norwegian researchers from the University of Oslo, University of Bergen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Nord University, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the University Centre in Svalbard, in addition to the Norwegian Polar Institute, Institute of Marine Research, Christian Michelsen Research, Akvaplan-niva, Geological Survey of Norway, Kongsberg Satellite Services, Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. 

Collaboration and education an important factor
“This is not just a research conference, but also a meeting place for education and innovation where industrial actors as well as others interested in Japanese-Norwegian cooperation and Arctic issues also belong,” Mr Kjellemo says.

The event is targeted towards researchers, research and education management, trade and industry, students, government authorities and research-funding organisations.

The conference is being organised by the Research Council of Norway in cooperation with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Tokyo, the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education and Innovation Norway.

For more information

Read more about the programme here:

Contact person at the Research Council:

  • Julie Christiansen, International contact point for Japan (see on top of the right column)




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