Japan, Finland agree to boost cooperation in the Arctic

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Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (L) listens to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking during a joint news conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 2016. Franck Robichon/REUTERS/Pool
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto (L) listens to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking during a joint news conference at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 2016. Franck Robichon/REUTERS/Pool
Japan and Finland are ready for Arctic cooperation, including the use of the Northern Sea Route and the development of Barents Euro-Arctic region.

In a joint statement issued after Thursday’s meeting of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö  in Tokyo, the two leaders confirm their commitment to “advance dialogue and cooperation in their shared interests in the Arctic, including further utilization of the Northern Sea Route economic development of the Barents Region.”

The sea route has attracted global attention as shipping lanes have opened up due to global warming-induced loss of summer sea ice and is seen as a valuable route connecting Asia and Europe, the shortest possible sea passage linking the continents.

The two leaders said their countries, located at the east and west ends of the sea route and which both develop Artic-focused technologies, will boost cooperation in the region “by mobilizing political will, commercial opportunities, and academic resources.”

Niinistö  is visiting Japan for the first time since he assumed office in 2012.

President Niinistö stated that bilateral relations between Finland and Japan are excellent and are based on common values, trust and mutual respect. Japan is one of Finland’s key economic partners outside the EU and a major investor in the country. “In recent years, the Japanese have made several major investments in Finnish companies, which have proven to be successful,” President Niinistö said at a press conference held after the meeting, the President’s website reads.

Japanese authorities have been paying more and more attention to the Arctic. The country became an observer to the Arctic Council in 2013, and has observer status to the Barents Euro-Arctic Council. In October 2015, Japan released its first Arctic Policy, which advocated a key role in the future formulation of international rules for Arctic development.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: The Arctic Council’s capacity challenge, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Iceland:  Iceland blasts Arctic Five for exclusion from fishing agreement, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Arctic Council aims to boost business, Barents Observer

Russia: Japan wants more Arctic cooperation with Russia, Barents Observer

Sweden:   Arctic Council – From looking out to looking in, Blog by Mia Bennett, Cryopolitics

United States:  Top Arctic official says cooperation key for Arctic Council under US leadership, Alaska Dispatch News

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