(1) Brief history of INSROP
The seeds of the International Northern Sea Route Programme (INSROP) were planted in October 1987, when Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev declared the NSR open to international traffic. The task of interpreting this declaration in terms of specific policies fell to the USSR's (and later Russia's) Ministry of Transportation, which began discussions with Norway's Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) on collaborative efforts in November 1988. After almost a full year's deliberation, in 1990 Russia's Central Marine Research and Design Institute (CNIIMF), located in St. Petersburg, and the FNI in Oslo agreed to conduct a preliminary feasibility study regarding the opening of the NSR. This study, which took a year and a half to complete, concluded that the NSR question warranted the formation of a new research and survey organization to launch a program of full-scale research.
Russia then expressed its sincere wish for Japan to take part as well, as a representative of the eastern economic bloc that would be served by the new route. As a result of ensuing discussions, the research and survey plan that had already been mooted between Russia and Norway was radically revised, and Japan agreed to collaborate as an equal partner with Russia and Norway. Supported by the Nippon Foundation, Japan's Ship & Ocean Foundation (SOF) approved participation in an extensive feasibility study. In 1992 deliberations began on the detailed structure of INSROP, including its research policy, detailed plans, fundraising methods, fiscal year and method of executing research plans. Consensus among SOF, FNI and CNIIMF was reached in April 1993, and the following May the three parties signed an Agreement for Research Cooperation, whereupon the new organization set to work on its first, three-year phase.
The chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Yohei Sasagawa, chaired the executive body of INSROP, the Steering Committee of Sponsors (SCS). This body was responsible for coordinating the various views of the three participating countries to determine the basic policies of the organization. Below the SCS, a Joint Research Committee (JRC) was established to deliberate upon, coordinate and select the actual research content and to propose plans for the execution of research.
In counterpoint to INSROP, the SOF, under the leadership of its chairman, Prof. Yuzuru Fujita assembled a group of professionals to form an NSR development, survey and research committee. This committee's brief was to promote INSROP and to conduct its own, uniquely Japanese survey and research work, to ensure that the results of INSROP's efforts would be gathered and applied as effectively as possible to the unique technological and social needs of Japan.
(2) Overview of INSROP
The first six years of INSROP were divided into two phases. Phase I consisted of the period 1993-1995 and Phase II included the years 1997 and 1998. In 1996, an impartial evaluating committee of outside professionals and specialists was formed; this group examined and appraised the results of Phase I and offered its advice on the necessity of a Phase II plan, basic directions in research and order of precedence of various topics. The Phase II plan was duly deliberated, prepared and executed according to the recommendations of this evaluating committee.
In Phase I, a Joint Research Committee composed of participating committee members from Japan, Norway and Russia examined and decided upon individual research topics for the following four sub-programs, for assignment to specialists from around the world for further survey and research work.