GUEST BLOGGER Hiroshi Kiyohara: Japan’s New Space Law Being Hamstrung by Political Turmoil

December 2, 2007 at 8:57 am | Posted in Guest blogger, Space Law | Leave a comment

by Hiroshi Kiyohara
The Japanese H-II A rocket was launched on September 14, and placed Japan’s first lunar probe, “Kaguya” in orbit. The lunar explorer went into a circular observation orbit 100 km above the Moon in late October and it successfully started transmitting scientific data to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) last month. The latest H-II A rocket launch was its seventh successful launch in a row, demonstrating to the world the reliability of Japanese-made rockets. It caused much excitement among people in the space industry who are struggling to win contracts to launch commercial satellites.

Turning our eyes to the current Parliamentary action concerning Japan’s new space law, however, we see dark clouds hanging low. The bill, “Japan’s Fundamental Act of Outer Space” was submitted to the Diet in June by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. The Diet was supposed to discuss and pass the bill within this year. But the legislation on which people in the space industry are placing high hopes is still up in the air, because the Diet is facing serious political turmoil. The turmoil has been caused by the ruling party’s big loss in the Upper House election held in July and the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s abrupt decision on September 12 to step down. Given the current political situation, it is absolutely unclear if the bill will be enacted in the current Diet session, which ends on December 15, 2007 and which can be extended by one month through mid-January, 2008.

Despite the delay in Parliamentary action, I expect the key legislation for the promotion of space exploitation to clear the Diet next spring or summer at the latest. Hoping my expectation will come true, I would like to introduce to you and discuss the contents of Japan’s proposed new space law over the next couple of weeks on Res Communis.

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Hiroshi is an attorney admitted in both the United States (New York and California) and Japan. He served as an assistant judge for Tokyo District Court, and currently work as the chief attorney for Musashi International Law Office in Tokyo. His degrees are a B.A., Tokyo University of Foreign Studies; J.D., the Institute of Legal Research and Training, Tokyo; and, LL.M., Golden Gate University Law School.

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