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Summary of Working Paper No. 100-1998

III.08.1 The NSR in Japanese Views of Trade

By K. Shikano, Green Line Express Co., Tokyo, Japan, and H. Kitagawa, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan

To present a survey of actual and potential cargoes for transportation through the NSR, the general features of present cargo transportation between Japan, Russia and Eastern and Northern Europe were studied, mostly by making use of data and documents published in Japan. Unhappy historical relations and the present unstable mutual economic dependence between Japan and Russia have had a depressing influence on shipping and cargo transportation between the two countries. Most of the cargo transport remains local along the NSR. A few operations were observed to and from China and North Korea via the NSR, where the freight commodities were mostly chemicals, chemical fertilisers, metals and foodstuffs.

The major marine transportation today is provided across the Sea of Japan and partly around the Sea of Okhotsk. Typical commodities are lumber from Siberia and crabs and other kinds of fish of a high market price from Sakhalin and the Russian Far East. For the moment, cargo transportation via the NSR is found to be too small-scale to make a reliable prediction of potential cargo to and from Japan via the NSR.

Since other INSROP projects, such as projects III .5.2 by Dr. Ramsland, III.7.2 by Dr. Buchan and some others, discuss the present situation and future prospects of cargo movements via the NSR in general, the potential economic activity along the route, rough transportation costs, etc., our attention here is limited to a study of the interests and intentions of the Japanese trade and marine community concerning the present and future NSR. In addition, a preparatory study was made of trading potential in the Japan-Sea Rim countries and the Russian Far East, which is attracting the attention of local governments and business communities in the northern regions of Japan.

The preparatory interview revealed that most economists in Japan have little interest in the NSR, without any substantial information about it. Some basic information about the NSR was prepared for them, including some statistics on the freight commodities between Japan and Europe, and interviews with questionnaires were conducted with economists and engineers at the shipping and the shipping and trading companies in Japan. The report then focuses on the results of the questionnaires and interviews and the interviewers views and suggestions concerning the perspectives for the NSR and requirements to the NSR operational environment.