Japan and the U.S. are strengthening cooperation in space. For the time being, Japan will mainly focus on “space debris.” In the future, however, Japan may participate in the U.S.-led missile defense that utilizes systems deployed in space. Space is emerging as a new “war zone” for the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
Cooperation that looks beyond changes in the space environment
Interview with former Assistant Secretary of Defense Linton Wells, who oversaw networks and information integration
Japan’s National Defense Program Guidelines have described space as a domain for activities to protect Japan’s national interest, its people, and its prosperity. To this end, Japan promotes cooperation and coordination with overseas partners through information sharing and multilateral training exercises to guarantee the proper functioning of space systems in place, such as the Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Program. This effort will help decrease the likelihood of conflicts and disputes.
The aims of (Japan’s) SSA are to detect, track and identify artificial objects in the Earth’s orbit. On the other hand, the U.S. views space from a military point of view and posits the space domain as a “war zone.” (The U.S. military objective of) space domain awareness (SDA) involves protecting satellites and maintaining superiority in space at every stage from peacetime to a contingency. Other countries interpret SDA as also including offensive activities.
In ten years, activities (operations) in space will entail those beyond the orbit of the moon. So a forward-looking perspective taking into account future changes in the space environment is required. The key will be coordinated actions by the governments, as well as between the governments and private sectors, across borders. (Interviewed by Taketsugu Sato, senior staff writer) (Abridged)