Upper House panel passes bill on space

Kyodo News

An Upper House committee approved a bill Tuesday intended to allow the use of space for defensive purposes, an important step on the road for the Defense Ministry to develop and operate spy satellites.

The full House of Councilors will put the bill to a vote later this week.

The move is a departure from Japan’s decades-long policy of limiting the development and use of space to nonmilitary purposes.

The bill for the “basic law on space” proposes that Japan develop and use space to contribute to its security, relaxing a nonmilitary provision on space inserted in a resolution that was issued by the Diet in 1969.

On the other hand, the bill would also require Japan to abide by the space treaty, honor its international commitments and maintain the pacifist spirit of the Constitution when developing and using space.

The space treaty, which came into force in 1967, governs activities in the exploration and use of outer space.