TOKYO — Japan’s Defense Ministry has decided to make a budget request for a new space monitoring unit to be set up in fiscal 2020 within its air forces, government sources said Wednesday.
The unit aimed at tracking space debris that poses a threat to Japanese surveillance satellites orbiting Earth, as well as other satellites operated by other countries, is expected to initially be staffed with about 70 personnel.
The ministry plans to deploy the unit to the Air Self-Defense Force’s base in Fuchu, western Tokyo, the sources said, adding that systems related to it will be linked with those of the United States and information obtained will be shared by the two countries.
The envisaged creation of the monitoring unit comes as countries like China and Russia, besides the United States, have been advancing space research for military purposes.
Under its national defense guidelines outlined in December, Japan also said it will beef up its defense capabilities in new domains of warfare such as outer space and cyberspace.
As for the budget for the fiscal year starting next April, the Japanese ministry is expected to request more than 5.3 trillion yen ($49.8 billion), the sources said. If so, the amount is a record high, increasing for the eighth consecutive year.