Japan's New Dual-Use Space Policy: The Long Road to the 21st Century Asie.Visions, No 88, November 2016
Japan’s latest space policy is designed to support a more proactive US-Japan alliance role in containing China, and robustly defend Japan against North Korean ballistic missile threats.
As such, it represents a significant departure from a near 40-year history during which Japanese space activities were designed to achieve the opposite: to remain hermetically sealed from any involvement in national security.
Within this, Japan has clearly set space development as a major plank not only of national but regional security policy. In this year’s Basic Plan 4, Japan has produced the nation’s first fully budgeted, costed and timetabled implementation of a series of programs that are openly security-oriented. Further, these goals are understood and supported domestically by key related players.
Getting to this point has not proved easy. Overcoming a four-decade legacy, and building on the Space Basic Law of 2008, Basic Plan 4 perhaps represents the first really fully implementable policy in fulfillment of goals laid out eight years ago.
Its formulation constitutes a major achievement and the result of intensive struggles in which a wide constituency of bureaucratic players have been forced by both domestic political and regional security and alliance pressures to work together.