COMNAP Representative (MNAP):Kazuyuki Shiraishi, Director-General, NIPR
About the Japanese National Antarctic Program
Japan’s national Antarctic program, the Japanese Antarctic Research Expedition (JARE), is organized by a headquarters established in 1955 at the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture which is now reorganized as the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). The headquarters comprise many governmental departments and agencies of various ministries, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Ministry of the Environment; the Ministry of Defence; the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries; and others. Scientific research and observation programs for JARE are considered and decided on at the general meeting of the headquarters as a mid-term research plan.
The National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR) founded in 1973, is the body responsible for the management of JARE. NIPR has been pursuing cutting-edge studies in collaboration with research communities relating to the earth, the environment, life, space and other fields as well. It is involved in a wide range of activities in the Antarctic research programs, both temporally and spatially, through research by using advanced method, long-term monitoring observations and field and ocean observations in many areas.
Japan has four Antarctic stations, Syowa, Mizuho, Asuka and Dome Fuji. Syowa, the largest of the stations, was built in 1957 and can hold up to 130 people in the summer and approximately 30 in the winter. Mizuho Station is 270 km southeast of Syowa and has had intermittent occupation since 1970. It is currently closed. Asuka Station was operational from 1984 until 1991 to support field work in the Sør-Rondane Mountains. Dome Fuji Station was built in 1995 for the purpose of the deep ice-core drilling program and for atmospheric observations.
Above: Main buildings of Syowa Station during the month of February.
Below: Main area of Dome Fuji Station.
Organizational Structure of the National Institute of Polar Research
The NIPR is established under the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture and is in charge of JARE. It started as a multi-university research institute and grew to become a part of the Research Organizations of Information and Systems (ROIS) in 2004. There are 500 Japanese investigators affiliated with NIPR. The Center for Antarctic Programs (CAP) was an early addition to the reorganizational structure of NIPR in 2004. The main focus of CAP is to manage JARE in terms of logistics and safety to personnel and to the environment. NIPR is opening up new frontiers in interdisciplinary research under the framework of the Trans-disciplinary Research Integration Center (TRIC) at ROIS and various other inter-university research programs.
To orchestrate international collaboration and relationships, the International Affairs Section was established in 2006. This section conducts business in regards to treaty meetings and conferences, cooperative research and scientific agreements with foreign institutes and international scientific exchange.
The budget for NIPR in fiscal year 2012 was 5091M yen (approximately US$64 million) broken down into 10% for personnel costs (travel, salaries etc), 10% research, 13% logistics support and 67% for vessels and helicopters.
The training of researchers is a big task of the institute. As a parent institute of the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), NIPR accommodates a 5-year doctoral course for graduate students in the Department of Polar Science, School of Multidisciplinary Sciences and is involved in fostering promising researchers with high-level research capabilities and skills for field science.
With the science, comes the responsibility of Environmental Protection which NIPR takes seriously, shown by their long term monitoring programs. In particular, at Syowa Station, an extensive program has been in place since 1997 to monitor changes in global and regional environments. All science adheres to the Protocol on Environmental Protection.
Utilizing the findings of observations and research in polar regions, NIPR promotes outreach activities for schools and, in addition, the Polar Science Museum opened in the Tachikawa campus in 2010. The Museum is used as the information center to transmit history and the current status of polar research and its achievement. NIPR offers many opportunities for graduate students to use Antarctic data and analytical facilities. There is also a public outreach program sponsoring public lectures, exhibitions of Antarctic items both modern and historic and Antarctic classes offered to school children ten times a year.
Japanese scientists collaborate with many international partners. Every summer since 1958, the Japanese government has dispatched one or two Japanese scientists to the expeditions of other Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties and invited one to three foreign scientists to join JARE.
Our Contact Details
Physical & Postal Address
Inter-university Research Institute Corporation Research Organization of Information and Systems
National Institute of Polar Research
10-3, Midoricho, Tachikawa
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