Japan Begins National Security Space Buildup

Japan Begins National Security Space Buildup

TOKYO — In January, Japan’s Office of National Space Policy cemented a new 10-year space strategy that for the first time folds space policy into national security strategy, both to enhance the US-Japan alliance and to contain China.

Under the third Basic Plan, Japan’s priorities go beyond building out its regional GPS-backup Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) navigation constellation, advancing its space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities and developing a maritime domain awareness (MDA) constellation. The country will also as much as double its Information Gathering Satellite (IGS) reconnaissance program to an eight-satellite constellation, and develop a space-based missile early warning capability.

“Japan’s three most important space programs are the QZSS, SSA and MDA, but we are also looking toward [space-based] shared [ballistic missile] early warning,” Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Hiroshi Imazu said. As former chairman of the party’s Space Policy Committee and current chairman of its Policy Research Council’s Research Commission on Security, Imazu is a leading advocate for Japan bolstering its national security space architecture.

Reflecting this, the current space budget increases QZSS funding by 18.5 percent to ¥22.3 billion (US $187.3 million) to build a “full” seven-satellite regional constellation, and the IGS program gets a 14 percent boost to ¥69.7 billion, as part of an overall 18.5 percent increase for total government space spending to ¥324.5 billion for this year.

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