This paper argues that Japan’s Arctic policy is in the process of developing toward more active engagement in the region. Three milestones of Japan’s past involvement in the Arctic are discussed, then the current processes formulating Japan’s Arctic interests are summarized. The paper then considers opportunities and challenges for Japan in the Arctic, in areas such as Arctic shipping, oil and gas exploitation, and fisheries, and concludes with three strategic considerations to help formulate Japan’s Arctic policy: the need to combine scientific findings with economic interests; possible diplomatic linkages between Arctic and East Asian states; and making diplomatic efforts toward subnational actors, such as indigenous groups in the region.

This series of six papers provides intensive analysis and discussion of historic, contemporary and future developments in East Asia-Arctic relations, from a group of leading experts from Japan, China, South Korea, the United States and Canada, working in the fields of Arctic sovereignty and international relations.