National

Japan eyes new defense unit to monitor space from ASDF base in west Tokyo

Kyodo

The Defense Ministry has decided to make a budget request for a new space monitoring unit to be set up in fiscal 2020 within its air forces, government sources said Wednesday.

The unit, which is aimed at tracking space debris that poses a threat to Japanese surveillance satellites, as well as satellites operated by other countries, is expected to initially be staffed by about 70 personnel.

The ministry plans to deploy the unit to the Air Self-Defense Force’s base in Fuchu, western Tokyo, the sources said, adding that its systems will be linked with those of the United States, and information obtained will be shared by the two countries.

The proposed creation of the monitoring unit comes as countries such as China and Russia have been advancing space research for military purposes.

Under its national defense guidelines outlined in December, Japan said it will beef up its defense capabilities in new domains of warfare such as outer space and cyberspace.

As for the budget for the fiscal year starting next April, the ministry is expected to request more than ¥5.3 trillion ($49.8 billion), the sources said. That amount would be a record high, increasing for the eighth consecutive year.