A panel of the Liberal Democratic Party has drafted a bill that would allow Japan to use space for military purposes within the realm of self-defense, shifting from the current stance that space projects only have civilian roles, party officials said Friday.
The panel plans to formalize the bill by August after consulting ruling coalition lawmakers before submitting it to an extraordinary Diet session in the fall.
The panel presented the draft to a Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) committee meeting to promote space development.
The bill would reassess the country’s space programs, which so far have centered on research and development, to divert more funds to security and industrial development purposes.
The bill would clear the way for development of high-definition spy satellites and of a satellite capable of detecting the launch of ballistic missiles.
The bill would lead to creation of a Cabinet space strategy headquarters headed by the prime minister that would oversee the activities of government agencies.
A minister would be assigned as deputy chief of the headquarters, which will draft basic space plans with experts.
The legislation would also revamp the functions of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency so it will be able to participate in national defense programs, the officials said.
The draft identifies 11 key areas, including expanding cooperation between the public and private sectors, maintaining Japan’s own space technologies, boosting competitiveness in space industries, expanding international cooperation and supporting developing nations, and promoting academic research.
The policy to use space only for peaceful purposes dates back to a 1969 parliamentary resolution. The government has interpreted the motion to mean nonmilitary use since the then chief of the now-defunct Science and Technology Agency underscored the position in the Diet.
But the LDP believes the current policy has delayed Japan’s efforts to use space for security purposes and to cultivate industrial bases for space technology.
The LDP aims to revise the parliamentary resolution with the new law.
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