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Plan for the Development of Marine Energy and Mineral Resources Revised

March 22, 2024

On March 22, 2024, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) revised the Plan for the Development of Marine Energy and Mineral Resources (hereinafter referred to as the “development plan”). The development plan stipulates a specific future plan for the development of marine energy and mineral resources. METI is responsible for the formulation of the development plan under the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy for this purpose.

1. Background

The development plan aims to specify the goals stipulated in the Basic Plan on Ocean Policy, a national policy approved by the Cabinet, under the Basic Act on Ocean Policy. METI has been formulating the development plan for this purpose.

In response to the formulation of the Fourth Basic Plan on Ocean Policy on April 28, 2023, the Government of Japan decided to revise the development plan based on the current situations in each field. The expert councils of METI held discussions by field on the draft of the revised development plan, and the Natural Resources and Fuel Committee of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy  of METI finalized the draft in February 2024. Following this, METI opened a call for public comments on the draft and finally revised the development plan on March 22, 2024.

2. Overview

The revised development plan explains not only the conventional plan on marine energy and mineral resources but also the additional issue of Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (CCS) as a new field to strike a balance between energy resources (e.g., oil and natural gas) and the realization of carbon neutrality to show Japan’s efforts for integrally addressing resource development and CCS.

The development of marine energy and mineral resources is a cutting-edge initiative with few examples worldwide and also an extremely challenging technological development with a high level of uncertainty. In light of these aspects, METI will steadily advance efforts to achieve the goals with flexibility to review the development for commercialization.

Methane hydrate:

Regarding the pore-filling type, METI will review the future direction of the R&D program by taking into consideration the results of the onshore long-term production test and the status of selecting methane hydrate concentrated zones for the future development. Subsequently, METI will conduct an offshore production test and a comprehensive verification toward FY2030.

Regarding the shallow type, METI will advance the development of technological elements for drilling and lifting the shallow type methane hydrate, and separation. The R&D program will be confirming and reviewing the future direction based on the results. Following that, METI will conduct an offshore production test and other efforts toward FY2030.

Oil and natural gas:

METI will flexibly conduct a government-led survey (approximately 50,000 square kilometers per decade by FY2028) using a three-dimensional seismic vessel and other means.

METI will continue to provide a support system tailored to the phases of risks involving commercialization. It will increase opportunities for exploratory drilling targeting desirable structures.


METI will promote the development of appropriate sites for CCS and also develop an environment for launching commercialization by 2030 (reducing cost, raising public understanding, promoting deployment of CCS overseas, and developing related laws for the commercialization).

Seafloor hydrothermal deposits:

METI will conduct a wide-area survey to find new deposits with high potential for good economic performance, an elaborate resource assessment to evaluate the economic performance of the deposits, an underwater test of a vertical mining machine, and a test of an ore-lifting system in sea areas.

Cobalt rich manganese crusts:

METI will assess the amount of resources in the exploration license areas in the Area and seamounts within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Japan, develop a trial mining machine and conduct an excavation test in sea area thereof, and contribute to international rule making.

Manganese nodules and rare earth muds:

Regarding manganese nodules, METI will further elaborate the assessment of the resource amount in the exploration license areas in the Area, conduct a test to run a trial mining machine, and hold discussions as an effort for environmental impact assessment.

Regarding rare earth muds, as part of the efforts in the third phase of the Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) operated by the Cabinet Office (CAO), CAO will conduct a demonstration test of the development and production processes involving technologies for efficient and effective mining and smelting in the sea area near Minamitorishima Island, such as by conducting a test of lifting mud in the sea area at a depth of about 6,000 meters.

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Division in Charge

Policy Planning Division, Natural Resources and Fuel Department, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy