League of Lawmakers Aims to Strengthen Command Center for Ocean Policy; Grant More Influence, Higher Budget

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Cabinet Office building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

An outline of draft bills to strengthen the Cabinet Office’s National Ocean Policy Secretariat has been compiled by a bipartisan study group of Diet lawmakers.

The secretariat serves as the command center for Japan’s basic ocean policy strategy. The draft bills are primarily aimed at increasing its budget and giving it greater authority.

The bipartisan group plans to submit the bills to revise the Establishment of the Cabinet Office Law and the Basic Law on Ocean Policy to the current Diet session at the earliest. Members include lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party, Komeito and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

Currently, the secretariat’s main role is to coordinate among relevant ministries and agencies, such as the Foreign Ministry and the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry. It cannot independently conduct projects.

Amid China’s aggressive maritime expansion, there have been calls to boost the secretariat’s capabilities. It has also been said that the government as a whole should implement ocean policy measures in an integrated manner to protect Japan’s maritime interests.

The bill to revise the Establishment of the Cabinet Office Law aims to increase the secretariat’s budget and stipulates that it can compile plans related to ocean policy, as well as distribute funds and give instructions to relevant ministries and agencies.

There are also plans for the secretariat to play a leading role in analyzing satellite data related to oceans, through the use of AI.

The draft bill to revise the Basic Law on Ocean Policy will stipulate in the law Japan’s key ocean strategies, in a bid to ensure steady progress. The key strategies were first compiled in April 26.