Copyright GLOBIS

In January 2007, China conducted a successful demonstration of a trial to destroy a satellite with a ground-launched missile. China has been developing its own GPS independent from the U.S. system, clearly indicating its intention to challenge the United States’ dominance of space. The threat of cyber-attacks by terrorist nations and other terrorist actors targeting computers at power generation plants and air traffic control centers has also been increasing. The stage for national security is shifting to space and cyberspace.

1. Relax the Principle of Peaceful Use of Space from “Non-Military” to “Non-Invasive” Purposes!

With regard to the Outer Space Treaty, countries around the world, except for Japan, follow the interpretation that the military use of space is not prohibited if the purpose is “non-invasive.” In Japan, however, the interpretation used by the government is “non-military” rather than “non-invasive.” The government applies the “generalization theory,” which only allows the SDF to use satellites within the technology levels generally accepted in the civilian sector.

For this reason, the analysis capability of the intelligence collection satellite currently used by Japan has been limited to that of satellites used in the civilian sector. As the stage for national security has been shifted to space, the interpretation of the principle of peaceful use of space should be changed to the international standard as soon as possible in order to allow the SDF to use satellites for military defense purposes.

2. Joint Research between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) of the Ministry of Defense!

Another negative effect of the Principle of Peaceful Use of Space is that results of research and development undertaken by JAXA, for which a huge amount of government expenditures, about 170 billion yen per year, have consistently been spent, cannot be used for defense purposes. To promote space development effectively within the limited budget and use the results for defense purposes, it is necessary to start joint research and development projects and consider the integration of the two organizations. In 2013, JAXA and the TRDI signed a research cooperation agreement in the aerospace field and personnel exchange between them has been started. I have high expectations for this kind of effort.

3. Create a Space Force!

In 1985, the United States created a Space Command (USSPACECOM) specializing in the operation of satellites and in early warning to respond to ballistic missile threats. While the Space Command was merged with the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) in 2002, the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC), the Naval Space Command (NAVSPACECOM), and the United States Army Space Command (USARSPACE), which are space-related units for air, marine and ground forces, are operated in an integrated manner by the USSTRATCOM.

China and Russia also have their space forces and other countries place emphasis on the military use of space. To defend Japan, whose neighboring countries include North Korea, it is obvious that Japan must place more emphasis on space than any other country. In 2014, the Ministry of Defense decided to consider the creation of a unit specializing in space operations. It is hoped that a space force will be created at all costs and that efforts will be made to develop experts, improve technology, and enhance the capability for intelligence collection.

4. Create a Cyber Force!

Damage caused by cyber-attacks is happening in various countries around the world. Japan, a small country with its population concentrated in urban areas and with advanced information technology, is particularly prone to cyber-attacks. We must protect important facilities, such as power plants, and core systems supporting the country, such as power distribution grids and air traffic control centers, from cyber-attacks by terrorists and terrorist nations.

The SDF created a Cyber Defense Group in 2015 to respond to cyber threats. Within Japan, in addition to cooperation with the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) and other relevant government ministries and agencies, the SDF promotes partnership and cooperation with the United States and other countries, including staging Japan-U.S. joint exercises against possible cyber-attacks. It is hoped that active efforts under the leadership of the Cyber Defense Group will be continued to enhance cyber-attacks response capabilities.

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