This valuable resource will be used not only for upcoming academic research but as a storehouse of relevant information to guide decision-making on a wide range of social and economic issues. Japan believes that the collaboration will also establish a pattern of private-sector diplomacy that strongly supports diplomacy among the participating governments, deepening the relationship of trust between Japan and Russia across a broad front.
Thanks to the results of this research program, it is now clear that it is technologically feasible to keep a northern sea route (NSR) open not only during the summer months, but even in the depth of winter, with the support of icebreakers. Moreover, this research has highlighted the issues that must be addressed in the future to bring the NSR to fruition as a shipping route. At the International NSR Users' Forum held last year in Norway, Russia declared its intention to take concerted steps to apply this new knowledge.
If the NSR becomes a commercial reality, East Asia and Europe will be connected by a sea route that is roughly half as long as the southern route through the Suez Canal. The economic benefits would be huge, and the existence of two routes instead of the sole route currently available will represent a tremendous boost to the security of international shipping. In addition, the Arctic region is rich in natural resources that would contribute handsomely to the world economy if brought to market.
This book is a compilation of data focusing on the results of the International Northern Sea Route Programme (INSROP) and on those of the collaborative domestic research project (JANSROP) supported by the Nippon Foundation. Particular attention is focused on the results of an experimental voyage through the NSR aboard the Kandalaksha, a Russian icebreaking cargo vessel. I am confident that this volume will prove useful for students of the NSR as well as for individuals and organizations involved in shipping and trade and for government decision-makers.
Finally, I wish to express my most sincere gratitude to a long list of talented individuals. I am grateful for the assistance of the many people in Japan and from numerous countries involved in INSROP. The members of the Japan Northern Sea Route Project Research Committee, and particularly Yuzuru Fujita, Professor Emeritus of University of Tokyo and Chair of the Committee, offered their unstinting advice and cooperation, and I thank them sincerely. This book would also not have been possible without such worthy contributors as Professor Hiromitsu Kitagawa of Hokkaido University. To all of the people mentioned above and numerous others, I extend my most sincere thanks.
March 1, 2000