GUEST BLOGGER Hiroshi Kiyohara:Japan’s proposed law would lift the “peace purposes only” limitation on

December 10, 2007 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Guest blogger | Leave a comment

In my last post on December 2, I hopefully said that a bill, “Japan’s
Fundamental Act of Outer Space,” would be enacted next spring or summer at
the latest. How would this legislation affect Japanese policies and measures
concerning exploitation of outer space?

One of the bill’s centerpieces is to lift the ban on using space technology
for military purposes, as long as the purposes are self-defense. In 1969,
Japan’s Diet adopted unanimously the parliamentary resolution that provided
Japan’s space program was only for peaceful purposes. The word
“peaceful purposes” was strictly interpreted to mean that Japan could use
and exploit outer space only for civilian purposes, i.e., “non-military”
purposes. Since then, the Japanese government has maintained this limitation
and refrained from using space even for national security or self-defense.
However, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is now eyeing a
fundamental shift in the country’s space policy. They say that the current
restriction has impeded Japan’s use of space for homeland security
objectives and delayed its industrial development of space technology. For
this reason, the LDP is aiming to revise the 1969 parliamentary resolution
with the new proposed law.

The proposed law would allow the Japanese government to use and exploit
outer space for national security and self-defense purposes as well as
civilian purposes. For instance, it would clear the way for Japan’s
Self-Defense Forces to launch military satellite, such as a high-resolution
reconnaissance satellite to gather intelligence on North Korean ballistic
missile deployments.

Some might have a fear that the bill can be a break from the provision
regarding the absolute requirement for space to be used for peaceful
objectives that was affirmed in the Space Treaty of 1967. However, this is
not the case. I will discuss this important issue in my next post.

**********************
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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