Japan on Tuesday adopted its first space security blueprint with the aim of better utilizing the frontier for defense purposes over the next 10 years, in response to the rising military use of outer space by China and Russia.
In the roadmap, drawn up based on the National Security Strategy updated in December 2022, the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has also committed to advancing Japanese defense projects by making use of private-sector space technologies.
The main pillar of the blueprint is a plan for strengthening information-gathering systems to enhance the effectiveness of counterstrike, or enemy base strike, capabilities, which Japan pledged late last year to acquire while maintaining its war-renouncing Constitution.
The roadmap was endorsed as Beijing continues to push ahead with its own space development projects, fanning speculations that competition between China and the United States in the domain will intensify. Russia has also been expanding its military-related space capabilities.
But the Japanese government's apparent attempt to accelerate the integration of the country's defense and civilian sectors may provoke a backlash from opposition parties, which have sought to criticize a series of relatively hawkish security policies hammered out by Kishida's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
During a government meeting on Tuesday, Kishida said, "For the sake of national security, we will dramatically scale up the use of space systems and ensure the safe and stable utilization of the domain."
The blueprint says that the development of space sector technologies has "direct implications concerning military advantage," citing as an example the use of data from U.S. and European commercial satellites to assist Ukraine in military operations in its defensive war against Russia, which invaded the country 16 months ago.
The government has also expressed its fears about the "rapid expansion of threats" from some countries, such as China, that have been significantly beefing up their information-gathering systems in space, as well as developing capabilities for attacking satellites.
Concerning its own counterstrike capabilities, Japan promises to increase the speed of information transmission by combining multiple small satellites and improve its visual data interpretation technologies by using artificial intelligence.
The blueprint, meanwhile, says Japan will step up cooperation with the United States and its allies to defend satellites while emphasizing that the Self-Defense Forces can disrupt the command and information communication systems of other nations.
The government also vowed to bolster collaboration between the Defense Ministry and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in a bid to provide support to private companies engaged in critical space technology development, the blueprint says.
By attempting to stimulate private-sector-led development in space, the government will aim to reduce costs in the face of budget constraints, it adds.