Japan's presence in the Arctic is not new, but it has been limited mostly to scientific research. Japan has stepped up its engagement after it gained observer status to the Arctic Council and appointed its first Arctic ambassador in 2013. However, Japan has yet to flesh out a full-blown Arctic strategy that identifies the range of its national interests in the polar region and actionable strategies to achieve them. The Arctic offers Japan an opportunity to expand cooperation with the United States in an uncharted area, poses hard questions on how to interact with Russia in the post-Ukraine era, and creates the interesting proposition of whether China and Japan can cooperate in articulating the views of non-Arctic states.
On October 19, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings hosted a panel of distinguished experts for a discussion on what components should be included in Japan's Arctic strategy, ranging from resource development, environmental preservation, and scientific research, to securing access to expanding shipping lanes and managing a complex diplomatic chessboard.