Global Environmental Risk

By Jeanne X. Kasperson; Roger Kasperson | Go to book overview

13
Sea-level rise and the Sea of Japan
Saburo Ikeda and Masaaki Kataoka

The largest island of Japan faces two major sea fronts: one is the Pacific Ocean and the other is the Sea of Japan, a semi-closed marginal sea enclosed by the Asian north-east continent, the Korean Peninsula, and the Japanese islands. The Sea of Japan has two narrow straits that link to the outer oceans – the East China Sea via the Korean Strait, and the Pacific Ocean via the Soya or Tsugaru Strait. Until recently, the Sea of Japan has experienced severe political and military conflicts between both the “East” and the “West,” and the “North” and the “South,” as a result of the Cold War. The Sea of Japan has been a playing field for “a game of hide and seek” for military vessels and aircraft since the end of the Second World War and has also witnessed several tragic accidents due to commercial maritime traffic.

The introduction of a market economy to Russia and to China and the attendant greater openness has encouraged Japanese local governments to promote the establishment of economic ties with the coastal regions of those countries, as well as with both South and North Korea. Local authorities have been encouraged to seek the formation of an economic bloc across the Sea of Japan or the “East Asian Sea,” as it is called by other Asian countries. Incidentally, these regions may benefit from climatic warming owing to reduced severe frost and snow environments for urbanization and industrialization.

Figure 13.1 shows the geographical location of the regions surrounding the Sea of Japan. These are Japan's 14 prefectures (local autonomous

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