The Ocean Policy Research Institute was established as the "Japan Foundation for Shipbuilding Advancement" in 1975. At the outset, its aim was to promote the shipbuilding industry and related manufacturing industries through activities such as conducting management diagnosis, financing business operations, supporting technology development and taking measures to prevent marine oil pollution. Subsequently, in response to a number of problems related to the ocean, which is the lifeblood of shipbuilding, the foundation's activities expanded to include research into and study of ocean affairs overall.
In 1990 the name of the foundation was changed to the "Ship & Ocean Foundation." It organized within itself the "Institute for Ocean Policy, SOF" in 2002. This transition shows the process by which the foundation came also to function as a Think Tank on ocean matters. And now, in accommodating its situation as a dual system encompassing a foundation and an institute, and proceeding at full speed with studies on the whole range of maritime affairs, the foundation is operating under the name of "Ocean Policy Research Foundation."
In Japan, the Basic Act on Ocean Policy entered into force in July 2007, with OPRF playing a major role in bringing about its enactment. In accordance with the Basic Ocean Act, the Headquarters for Ocean Policy was established within the Cabinet Secretariat in order to implement a comprehensive and systematic ocean policy. The Headquarters is headed by a Director-General, the Prime Minister, who is assisted by two Vice Directors-General, the appointee to the newly created cabinet position of Minister for Ocean Policy and the Chief Cabinet Secretary.