U.S., Japan Strengthen Military and Civil Space Ties

U.S., Japan Strengthen Military and Civil Space Ties

The United States and Japan are strengthening their ties in both the military and civilian space arenas this week while Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio and top officials visit Washington. The two countries agreed that Article V of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty could be invoked for attacks to, from, or within space and signed a new Space Framework Agreement for cooperation between NASA and Japan.

Kishida met with Vice President Kamala Harris at her Naval Observatory residence this morning and with President Joe Biden immediately thereafter at the White House. This is Kishida’s first visit to Washington since taking office in October 2021. It’s the last stop on a week-long 5-nation tour to meet with leaders of other G7 countries (France, U.K., Italy and Canada) as Japan assumes the G7 presidency.

A White House statement said that Harris, who chairs the National Space Council, and Kishida had further discussions about the U.S.-Japan Space Framework Agreement following up on their meeting in Japan last September.

“In her capacity as Chair of the National Space Council, the Vice President welcomed the signing of the U.S.-Japan Space Framework Agreement, which she discussed with Prime Minister Kishida in Tokyo in September 2022. They agreed to strengthen cooperation in space across multiple sectors including security, commercial, and civil space opportunities.”

The Framework was signed this afternoon at NASA by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japan’s Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa following a meeting between Kishida and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japan’s Foreign Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa shake hands after signing the agreement at NASA HQ, January 13, 2023. Looking on (L-R): NASA astronaut Ann McClain, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio, JAXA President YAMAKAWA Hiroshi, Japan’s Ambassador to the U.S. TOMITA Koji, and JAXA astronaut HOSHIDE Akihito. Screengrab.

Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy will travel to Japan next month to continue discussions.

Kishida said U.S.-Japan space cooperation “has entered a new era with the Artemis project” and hopes this new agreement “will robustly promote our space cooperation even further. … I’m committed to working in lockstep with the United States to deepen this cooperation.”

Japan was one of the first eight countries to sign the Artemis Accords. In addition to extensive cooperation with NASA on earth and space science missions over many decades — including the XRISM X-ray telescope scheduled for launch this year — Japan is a partner in the International Space Station. The United States has been trying to get the other ISS partners (Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe) to agree to extend ISS operations to 2030. In November, Japan agreed. It also is participating in the new Gateway space station that will orbit the Moon. Last May, President Biden committed to including a Japanese astronaut as a Gateway crew member and said he looks foward to a Japanese astronaut “joining us in the mission to the lunar surface.”

Blinken, a former staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on which Nelson served, started by expressing his delight to be at NASA and with Nelson again. Sounding as much like a space enthusiast as a Secretary of State, Blinken said the Framework “will take our cooperation to new heights.” It “lays out a roadmap for the next 10 years” in space technology and transportation, robotic lunar surface missions, climate-related missions “and our shared ambition to see a Japanese astronaut on the lunar surface.”

He went on at length about what the United States achieved in the past and the bright future that awaits through international collaboration like that in the Framework agreement.

In the last Century, the Space Race electrified the world, seizing the imaginations of millions of people, awed by the men and women who dare to go into the unknown. It inspired generations of scientists, researchers, innovators, dreamers. And it paved the way for countless technological advances and computers, satellites, GPS, camera lenses, medical equipement and so much more. And these advances have improved the daily lives of people across the planet.

Now we’re entering a new chapter of space exploration and our ambitions are no less soaring than in President Kennedy’s time when he declared his commitment to landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth within the decade. And our achievements, I believe, will be no less impressive or important for the benefit of humankind. But even more than in the past, we will reach new frontiers through an approach that is fundamentally collaborative.

We’ve seen what international space collaboration can achieve. Just in the last few years, they put a rover on Mars and launched the most powerful space telescope ever, the James Webb Space Telescope. … With Japan, our countries will soon make similar incredible discoveries as we prepare to send a probe to Mars’ moons [the MMX mission], explore the South Pole of our own Moon, and more.

Agreements like the one we’re signing today helped create and strengthen the partnerships that are at the heart of this extraordinary progress. We need to harness the world’s collective vision and all of our strengths to reach these new horizons.

Kishida is the second head of state to stop by NASA Headquarters in the past two months. French President Emmanuel Macron was there on November 30 together with Harris.

Over the past week, top-level U.S. and Japanese officials have had many discussions about national security space, too, as well as cooperation on a very broad range of other issues.

A joint statement issued after the Biden-Kishida meeting said the two countries “have aligned our collective force posture and deterrence capabilities to meet new and emerging threats, including in the cyber and space domains” and “we will sharpen our shared edge on economic security, including protection and promotion of critical and emerging technologies, including semiconductors; space, including through our new bilateral Space Framework Agreement; and clean energy and energy security, where we have deepened our cooperation on nuclear energy while upholding the highest nonproliferation standards.”

President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio at the White House, January 13, 2023. White House photo via Twitter.

Earlier in the week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Japanese counterpart HAMADA Yasukazu, together with Blinken and Hayashi, convened the 2023 U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee.

Among the results was renewing their joint commitment to “deeping cooperation on space capabilities” and agreeing that in certain circumstances Article V of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty could be invoked if there were attacks to, from or within space.

“Recognizing the growing importance of outer space to the peace, security and prosperity of the Alliance, the Ministers renewed their commitment to deepening cooperation on space capabilities to strengthen mission assurance, interoperability, and operational cooperation, including through enhanced collaboration in space domain awareness after the operationalization of Japan’s Space Situational Awareness system scheduled in 2023.

“The Ministers consider that attacks to, from, or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the Alliance, and affirmed such attacks, in certain circumstances, could lead to the invocation of Article V of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The Ministers also affirmed that a decision as to when such an attack would lead to an invocation of Article V would be made on a case-by-case basis, and through close consultations between Japan and the United States, as would be the case for any other threat.”

Japan joined the U.S.-led pledge not to conduct direct-ascent kinetic energy antisatellite tests in September 2022.

Note: Japanese put their surname first and given name second as do other Asian cultures. The Prime Minister’s given name is Fumio so his name, for example, is correctly written as Kishida Fumio. When both names are used in English, the surname is often capitalized to highlight the difference with English usage.

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