• Kyodo

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A government panel on space program strategy plans to revise a law to allow the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to step outside its current commitment to peaceful projects and become involved in the use of space for national security.

Following the panel’s decision Friday, JAXA would be allowed to cooperate in developing spy and early warning satellites if the amendment bill is approved during the ordinary Diet session that convenes later this month.

The controversial move, however, is likely to provoke opposition to the military use of space.

The nation’s space program was based on a 1969 Diet resolution limiting it to nonmilitary fields in principle.

But a basic space program act enacted in 2008 stipulates that the program should contribute to security, permitting the use of space for defense purposes.

JAXA meanwhile said a password for accessing NASA’s system may have been leaked after a computer used by an agency employee was infected with a virus.

The password can be used to access data such as the operational plan for the International Space Station, but it is not known whether the password has actually been used by an outsider, JAXA said Friday.

The computer was infected last July when the employee opened an email with a subject line that had the Japanese word for yearend party, agency officials said, adding a cyber-attack is suspected because other staff had received email with the same subject line.

Data from the employee’s computer were found to have been sent to a server in Colombia, the officials said.