Monday, May 26, 2008

Japan will allow military use of space

U.S. could join in missile-tracking defense system

TOKYO — The Diet has passed a law allowing space to be used for military purposes, including allowing Japan to possess early warning satellites that could be used as part of a missile-defense system and to jointly develop with the United States satellites for defense purposes.

The bill cleared the House of Councillors at a plenary session Wednesday morning.

The new law emphasizes the development and utilization of space, based on the U.N. Outer Space Treaty, which prohibits the deployment of nuclear and other arms in space, as well as on the defense-only principles of the Constitution.

The law proposes space development for security purposes based on the following aims:

• Improving people's livelihoods.
• Eliminating threats to human lives.
• Contributing to international peace and Japan's national security.

In addition to this, the law also includes provisions for the establishment of a new strategy headquarters, headed by the prime minister, to deal with space development in order to strengthen Japan's competitiveness in the global space industry.

Once the new office is created, a Cabinet member will be appointed to oversee development, while a space agency also will be established within the Cabinet Office within a year of the law going into force.

The law aims to set up a tax system and other monetary measures that will enhance the technical capacity of the nation's space industry and promote private sector investment in the field.

Since 1969, when the Diet adopted a resolution that restricted the use of space to peaceful purposes, successive governments have limited the nation's space development to "nonmilitary" purposes.

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