I attended the "Arctic Circle Assembly 2018", held in Reykjavik, Iceland in October.
Arctic Circle was launched in 2013 by His Excellency Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, former Prime Minister of Iceland. It is also called as “Arctic Davos”.
Japanese Foreign Minister Mr. Kono attended the Arctic Circle Assembly for the first time as Japanese Foreign Minister. In his keynote speech, Mr. Kono mentioned that Hokkaido is a gateway for Arctic in Asia. It is a significant support for Hokkaido to increase a sense of presence.
A variety range of themes were discussed through plenary sessions and a lot of breakout sessions, and I would like to introduce one breakout session, “A Polar Silk Road, at the Intersection of Research, Policy and Industry”. Although it was mainly focusing on Northern Sea Route, one of the speakers Mr. Heider Gudjonsson, Vice Chair of Arctic Economic Council, made an insightful suggestion regarding data connectivity.
Mr. Gudjonsson said that Arctic has a huge potential in the area, since Northern Norway is famous for worldwide datacenter cluster, and ongoing Arctic subsea data cable project which would connect between Europe and Asia. This is very interesting for me, as Hokkaido Government is also promoting the establishment of datacenter, as our cool climate could be an advantage to reduce power consumption of air conditioning. There is a similarity between Hokkaido and Arctic. I believe that we could learn a lot from Arctic to vitalize our local economy.
Finally I would like to express my profound gratitude to Arctic Research Center of Hokkaido University, for giving me such kind of wonderful experience.
Yoshinao Okabe (Hokkaido government)