Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday Japan will form a space defense unit to protect itself from potential threats as rivals develop missiles and other technology and the new unit will work closely with its American counterpart recently launched by President Donald Trump.
The Space Domain Mission Unit will start in April as part of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, Abe said in a policy speech marking the start of the year’s parliamentary session.
He said Japan must also defend itself from threats in cyberspace and from electromagnetic interference against Japanese satellites.
“We will drastically bolster capability and systems in order to secure superiority” in those areas, Abe said.
The space unit will be added to an existing airbase at Fuchu in the western suburbs of Tokyo, where about 20 people will be staffed ahead of a full launch in 2022.
Its role is to conduct satellite-based navigation and communications for other troops in the field, rather than being on the ground.
Cabinet has approved 50.6 billion yen (US$460 million) for space-related projects, pending parliamentary approval.
The space unit will cooperate with the US Space Command that Trump established in August in this year, as well as Japan’s space exploration agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Underscoring the need to step up cybersecurity, Mitsubishi Electric Corp revealed yesterday that it had suffered a cyberattack last June that may have compromised personal and corporate data involving thousands of its job applicants, employees and retirees.
Mitsubishi said there was no breach of sensitive data in the company’s operations involving defense, space, transportation, electric power and other businesses sectors.
It promised to enhance security measures and monitoring.
Abe, in marking Sunday’s 60th anniversary of the signing of Japan-US security treaty, vowed to bolster Japan’s capability and cooperation with the US, including in the areas of space and cybersecurity.
He said he is also determined to settle Japan’s “unfortunate past” with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as he hopes to “sum up” his country’s postwar legacies before his term expires next year.
He reiterated his intention to hold talks with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un without the conditions he had demanded in the past.
Part of Abe’s plan while in office is to achieve his long-cherished goal of revising Japan’s US-drafted constitution that prohibits use of force in settling international disputes. Despite Abe’s push, his chances are fading due to a lack of public interest.