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Message from Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the occasion of gMarine Dayh on July 18

[Provisional Translation]

The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 caused unparalleled loss of life and damage. It is a matter of true sorrow that this disaster caused such enormous loss and sacrifices for the people whose life and work are closely connected with the ocean.

I would like to reiterate my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who perished in the earthquake, as well as my deepest sympathy for everyone affected by this disaster.

The tremendous damage caused by the enormous tsunami is plain to see, and I am keenly reminded of the terrible might of natural disasters. The tsunami has also caused me to think again about our relation with the ocean as a maritime nation.

Japan is a country surrounded on all sides by ocean and from ancient times we have used the ocean as a means to transport goods and as a source of food, developing as a nation as we benefited from the various blessings the ocean provides.

In addition, our territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are approximately 12 times the size of Japanfs land area, and we are the sixth largest maritime nation in the world, measured in terms of oceans under our jurisdiction. The role that the ocean will play in our future development is of essential importance, given the wealth of marine resources, oceanic renewable energies and various mineral resources present in the ocean depths.

It was for this reason that in March this year the gPolicy of Future Responses concerning Scientific Surveys and Exploration of Mineral Resources within the Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Areash was determined, in conjunction with a Cabinet decision on the bill to amend the Mining Act, from the perspective of promoting the development and utilization of rich maritime resources and managing them appropriately. As we move forward, the government will engage in strategic and comprehensive promotion of ocean policy, based on the Basic Act on Ocean Policy.

In a maritime country like Japan, the ocean is an invaluable asset, and I believe that we must ensure that it remains a close and familiar presence in the lives of all the people of Japan too.

In order that we can pass on to the next generation the riches of the ocean, the benefits of which have sustained our nationfs development since antiquity through our close relationship with the maritime environment, it is important that the people of Japan have a deep understanding and interest in the ocean.

I sincerely hope that gMarine Dayh will give the people of Japan an opportunity to express appreciation for the great benefits the ocean provides us and aim for the further prosperity of Japan as a maritime nation.

July 15, 2011
Naoto Kan
Prime Minister
Director-General of the Headquarters for the Ocean Policy