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Northern Japan port aims to be hub for Arctic passage

Hokkaido's Tomakomai welcomes Cosco ship after three-week voyage

A U.S. Coast Guard ship breaks ice surround a Russian-flagged tanker in the Bering Sea. Climate change is making northern waters more passable even in winter, experts say.   © Reuters

SAPPORO -- A port on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido welcomed a container ship Wednesday after a trial passage through the Arctic Ocean from Europe, hoping to become a hub on a new sea lane.

The port of Tomakomai held a ceremony to mark the arrival of the vessel operated by Cosco group, China's largest maritime shipper, following a roughly three-week journey through waters once too daunting for commercial ships.

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