With the United States' Dec. 21 creation of a separate and sovereign branch of its military completely devoted to space, the U.S. Space Force, the global race to emancipate a portion of national military power from terrestrial shackles and place it firmly into orbit is on.

The announcement also unleashed a somewhat unexpected cascading effect: the increased attention paid to military space activities by U.S. allies and partners, who have no choice but to follow where the U.S. military moves its gravitational pull. In particular, Japan has indicated in recent days its intention to remain in lockstep with the U.S., at least in terms of defense.

On Jan. 5, scarcely two weeks following the U.S. Space Force announcement, the government reportedly indicated it plans to rename the Air Self-Defense Force the Aerospace-Defense Force.