Japan and the United States on Monday confirmed their desire to cooperate in the satellite monitoring of ships, a move apparently aimed at Chinese vessels and those from countries such as North Korea sailing near Japan.
In a joint statement, the two countries also said they have agreed on a legal framework for the provision of information on space debris from the United States to Japan given that such material sometimes endangers Earth-orbiting satellites.
The statement was issued after Japanese and U.S. officials held the first meeting of the bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue on Space, a new bilateral consultative framework, in Tokyo.
The meeting came amid China’s growing assertiveness in pursuing its maritime interests, particularly over the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Beijing.
Since launching its first manned space mission in 2003, China has also been expanding its activities outside the Earth’s atmosphere to catch up with the United States and Russia.
In the statement, Japan and the United States “reaffirmed their interest” in pursuing transparency and confidence-building measures for space activities, including a proposal for an international code of conduct, an effort aimed at avoiding miscalculations and accidental clashes.
They also discussed bilateral collaboration in the use of the U.S. Global Positioning System and a complementary system being developed by Japan.
Japan and the United States have pursued space cooperation in a wide range of areas, such as environmental monitoring, resources, disaster management and security. The new consultative framework ensures a “whole-of-government” approach to space issues, the joint statement said.
Among the participants at Monday’s meeting from the Japanese side were officials of the foreign, defense and science ministries, including Kazuyuki Yamazaki, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau.
The United States was represented by a senior member of the U.S. National Security Council, and officials from the State and Defense departments and from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
The two sides agreed to hold the second meeting in Washington early next year.
At a meeting of foreign and defense officials in June 2011, the two countries confirmed plans to jointly tackle security issues, including space. They also agreed to expand their partnership to outer space at a summit between former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and U.S. President Barack Obama in April 2012.