Japan considers opening Arctic shipping lane

Featured - August 2nd, 2012

Japan is considering using the Arctic Ocean as a sea route that could improve shipping efficiency and reduce carbon emissions, The Nikkei reports.

Ships that sail from Asia to Europe typically travel via the Suez Canal, a voyage which usually takes a month. Ships traveling from Yokohama to Rotterdam cover 21,000 km. The Arctic route could reduce that distance to 13,000 km and the travel time to 25 days.

According to the Transport Ministry, the northern route could cut total one-way shipping costs by 40%, including sailing fees, personnel expenses and fuel. The shorter distance is fuel-efficient and could reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Japan is still studying further details on the route, including whether Russia will approve the shipping lane along its coastal areas and how much it would charge vessels. Japan also plans to participate in the Arctic Ocean Conference as an observer to familiarize itself with rules on the use of the body of water. The Arctic Ocean Conference is a forum made up of eight Arctic Ocean countries, including Russia, Canada, the US and Norway.