Methane hydrate reserves eyed as top priority in new ocean policy


The government released the draft of a new five-year ocean policy Monday that calls for measuring the methane hydrate reserves below the seabed around Japan within three years and enhancing maritime security.

After successful tests last month to extract methane from the potential next-generation energy source, development of technology for commercially extracting the gas from methane hydrate should start in fiscal 2018, the draft says.

It also urges government agencies to share exploration data and use sophisticated technology to promote the development of marine resources in general.

The plan, which the government is expected to finalize this month to replace the present ocean plan drafted in 2008, urges accelerating the development of renewable energy technology usable at sea.

Specific research and development projects cover floating wind power generators off Fukushima Prefecture as well as wave and tidal power generation systems.

The plan also envisions developing innovative power generation systems for northeastern Japan’s coastal zones to promote reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

As for the Chinese government’s maritime incursions into Japanese waters near the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands claimed by China as Diaoyu, the draft calls for ensuring marine security.

In particular, it urges the Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Coast Guard to efficiently share warning and surveillance information.