Japan can help Russia in the development of the Arctic

MOSCOW (RO) – Recently, the so-called “Arctic sea route”, which through Europe connects Europe and Asia, is gaining more and more attention of the world community.

Due to global warming, the thickness of Arctic ice in the summer period has almost halved. It is estimated that the remaining half of the ice will virtually disappear over the next 50 years.

Such a prospect, of course, raises serious concern. But if viewed from a business perspective, it promises to bring huge benefits. Indeed, for the navigation of ships, the Arctic route is fully opened, which is 1/3 shorter than the route through the Suez Canal, and much more economical in terms of time and necessary expenses.

Among other things, the region of the Arctic seas is a storehouse of natural resources. It is expected that in the coming years, large-scale work on their exploration and development will be launched here. The capacities put into operation by Russia in Yamal last year for the production and shipping of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are the largest in the world.

Today, Russia, under the leadership of President Putin, is arranging the Arctic sea lanes and developing Arctic natural resources as an important component of the national strategy. Following Russia, those with access to the Arctic seas and neighboring states are also connected to this process. Japan is also included in this group of states. The year before last, the whole world was surprised by China, which announced the strategy of the “Arctic Silk Road”, designed to consolidate Chinese interests in this region. In this context, both the United States and Japan should work out their new line in the Arctic.

New port facilities are being built, new airports are being commissioned

In the capital of the Kamchatka Territory, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, acquiring the status of a Russian Asian outpost on the Arctic sea routes, major infrastructure projects are being simultaneously implemented. In 2022, it is planned to open a new LNG terminal here, expand existing port facilities, giving them international status, and expand the existing regional airport to the international level. The city and its environs are famous for its beautiful nature, so local authorities are intensively developing tourism here.

However, the population of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is only 180 thousand people, and the Kamchatka Peninsula – only 300 thousand. The possibilities of this Russian region in the implementation of various projects alone are still limited.

Our benefit is proximity to these lands.

In October 2018, I visited Kamchatka as part of a large delegation of Japanese businessmen and scientists from Hokkaido. An active exchange of views took place with representatives of local authorities and business circles on the development of the region’s economy, cooperation in the field of industry, the revival of tourism, etc. Then I keenly felt how high the opportunities for cooperation and interaction were among the Russian and Japanese sides.

From Kamchatka to Hokkaido, only 1,600 kilometers. This is about the same distance that separates us from Kagoshima Prefecture on Kyushu Island. Purely from a geographical point of view, Hokkaido can play a big role in the development of Kamchatka, and we can hope that it will manifest itself in the future. Personally, I would like to maximize the mutual use of the benefits that our bilateral business relations can bring to the parties.

In November this year, Tokyo will host an international meeting of science ministers from various countries on Arctic issues. At the same time, the Japan Arctic Forum will be held. Both of these activities provide Japan with the opportunity to show the world their intentions regarding the Arctic. At the same time, they will allow our Hokkaido to declare its desire to enter the system of new business opportunities, which is determined by our proximity to the Arctic region. I would like this year to become for Hokkaido “the first year of the era of the great Arctic path.”