• Kyodo News

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The ruling bloc — the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito — will outline a bill to allow military use of space solely for purposes of defense.

The LDP and its junior coalition partner, which agreed on the outline at a meeting in Tokyo of their project team on space law, plan to work on drafting the bill and submit it to the current Diet session, lawmakers said.

They intend to have the Diet carry over the bill to the next session, which is expected in the fall, and seek cooperation from the Democratic Party of Japan following next month’s House of Councilors election in getting the proposed legislation passed.

The current government position is that space development programs be nonmilitary, and limited to launching satellites and other purposes pursuant to a 1969 parliamentary resolution that limits space development to peaceful purposes. Japan has placed into orbit, however, four multipurpose satellites whose functions reportedly include spying on North Korea, although these vehicles are not specifically in the military’s possession.

The policy has been an obstacle for legally launching military reconnaissance satellites, prompting some people to point out security concerns.

In the discussions within the ruling bloc, the LDP argued that the general recognition of international conventions concerning the limits of space use is not for “nonmilitary” but for “nonaggressive” purposes, and so Japan should expand its space use accordingly.

New Komeito was initially cautious about working on a space bill because of its position that space development should be peaceful.

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