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Onodera wants Japan space agency cooperation on national defense

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, third from left, listens to an explanation about rockets, at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)'s Tsukuba Space Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, on July 2, 2018. (Mainichi)

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki -- Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera stated here on July 2 that he wants the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to play a greater role in national defense.

"I want to strengthen (Defense Ministry) cooperation with JAXA, and deepen use of space for national security purposes," Onodera said during a tour of JAXA's Tsukuba Space Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. The minister was at the facility to inspect the agency's space junk analysis facility. The Air Self-Defense Force is planning to establish a space debris tracking unit in fiscal 2022 to protect Japanese satellites.

Onodera, looking ahead to revisions to the National Defense Program Guidelines -- multiyear plans laying out Japan's national defense priorities and equipment acquisitions -- at the end of 2018, has stated that "using space (for defense) is an important issue to consider."

The United States' global surveillance network is considered insufficient in Asia, and Onodera emphasized the significance of more intelligence sharing between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the U.S.

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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