Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto agreed Thursday to bolster cooperation in developing the resource-rich Arctic.
The two leaders, meeting at Abe’s office in Tokyo, said in a joint statement issued afterward that they confirmed their commitment to “advance dialogue and cooperation in their shared interests in the Arctic, including further utilization of the northern sea route.”
The sea route has attracted global attention as shipping lanes have opened up due to global warming-induced loss of summer sea ice and is seen as a valuable route connecting Asia and Europe, the shortest possible sea passage linking the continents.
The two leaders said their countries, located at the east and west ends of the sea route and which develop Artic-focused technologies, will boost cooperation in the region “by mobilizing political will, commercial opportunities, and academic resources.”
The Abe-Niinisto talks came as Japan hopes to strengthen ties with Finland, especially in the development of the Arctic region, Japanese officials said.
Last October, the government adopted its first basic Arctic policy, which advocated a key role in the future formulation of international rules for Arctic development.
Abe and Niinisto, who is visiting Japan for the first time since he assumed office in 2012, also reiterated their “strong condemnation” of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014, their statement said.