US and Japan Collaborate on Outer Space Security

US and Japan Work Together to Boost Outer Space Security

The United States of America and Japan enjoy a long-standing alliance in the 21st century. Both countries are finding ways to strengthen relations in the fields of economy and global security.

Aside from that, just recently both nations affirmed to boost security with regards to outer space. That’s why on his visit to Tokyo in Japan, Assistant Secretary Frank A. Rose of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance highlighted the importance of a dynamic alliance in a changing world. This includes meeting the emerging security challenges of the 21st century especially with regards to cyberspace and outer space security.

Mr. Rose highlighted that the security environment has evolved in unexpected and unpredictable ways since 1978 when both the US and Japan signed the “Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation.”

President Barack Obama (left), Head of state of the United States of America, and Emperor Akihito (right), Head of state of Japan.

The Threat to Outer Space Is Real and Growing

According to Mr. Rose, threats to U.S. space systems and services will increase during 2015 and beyond as potential adversaries pursue disruptive and destructive counterspace capabilities.

One threat that Mr. Rose cited is China’s continued development of anti-satellite weapons remains a major challenge to the outer space environment. To cite an example, China’s 2007 anti-satellite test has left over three thousand tractable pieces of debris in orbit that continue to threaten the space systems of all nations including those of China.

To stop the race of space weapons, both nations are working to prevent conflict from extending into space via two diplomatic tracks: strengthening their deterrent posture, and encouraging responsible behavior to prevent mishaps and misper-ceptions, and to diminish the chances of miscalculation.

In this regard, both nations are strengthening and modernizing their alliance through enhanced space cooperation.

In addition, both have recognized the dependence on space for civil societies, economies, and security, as well as their mutual commitment to ensuring the long-term sustainability and security of the outer space environment which makes it not a surprise that space has become an essential part of their alliance.

Enhanced Space Cooperation

According to Mr. Rose, space cooperation between the United States and Japan has a long history, built on the foundation of civil and scientific cooperation between NASA, NOAA, and other U.S. agencies and their Japanese counterparts.

“U.S.-Japan space security cooperation is relatively new, but growing fast.” – Mr. Rose

The space security relationship between the United States and Japan began in 2010, with the first U.S.-Japan Space Security Dialogue where both nations from time to time discuss issues pertaining to space security and strengthening cooperation.

Mr. Rose said the cooperation on space security is now part of the Common Strategic Objectives of the Alliance. Bilateral cooperation on civil and security space was recognized in the outcomes of summits between President Obama and former Prime Minister Noda in 2012 and again with Prime Minister Abe in 2014.

Both nations also worked together to ensure that space security cooperation was included for the first time in the revision of the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Guidelines released this April.

In addition, two governments are committed to ensuring the resiliency of their space systems, enhancing space situational awareness information, sharing threat information, and pursuing cooperation in areas such as maritime domain awareness and hosted payloads.

Both nations also reaffirmed the commitment to secure the responsible, peaceful, and safe use of space, underscored the importance of continued utilization of the International Space Station, agreed to strengthen the resilience and interoperability of critical space systems, and confirmed their support for international efforts to encourage responsible actions in space.

US Building Partnerships to Address Problems of the Space Environment

Aside from boosting its alliances for the new demands of the 21st century, the US is also building new partnerships to help solve the shared problems of the space environment.

US asserts all nations established and emerging spacefaring nations have a responsibility in maintaining the sustainability and security of the space environment.

The strong U.S.-India cooperation on space security issues, in the Asia-Pacific and internationally also made a difference.

US says the relationship between India and America will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century because India plays a strong role for Indian leadership in regional and multilateral space fora, where India has much to give, and also to gain.

Space Getting Congested? Much Has Changed!

Over fifty-five years have passed since Sputnik was launched, and much has changed, both in the breadth of space capabilities.

Today, the world relies on satellites for communications, for disaster management and relief, for treaty monitoring, and for sustainable development, among many other things.

Reports say there are approximately sixty nations and government consortia, as well as numerous private sector organizations that operate in space, and that number is expected to continue to grow.

Increasing space debris resulted in increased orbital congestion, complicating space operations for all those that seek to benefit from space.

As the United States’ strategic guidance for “Priorities for 21st Century Defense” points out, “Growth in the number of space-faring nations is also leading to an increasingly congested and contested space environment, threatening safety and security.”

Today’s space situation is even more pronounced than it was a decade ago.

Space is no longer an environment accessed nearly exclusively by two superpowers or a few countries. Barriers to entry are lower than ever. Many countries are enjoying access to and the benefits of space in unprecedented numbers.

Space now is the domain of a growing number of satellite operators; approximately 60 nations and government consortia operate satellites, as well as numerous commercial and academic satellite operators.

Paradoxically, while it is becoming increasingly easier to access as well as to benefit from space. However, decades of space activity have littered low Earth orbit with debris, and as the world’s spacefaring nations continue to increase activities in space, the chance for collision increases correspondingly.

The situation means the countries need to think carefully through how all countries can all operate there safely and responsibly.

The U.S. Department of Defense tracks roughly 22,000 objects in orbit, of which only 1,100 are active satellites. He added that while some pieces of debris are simply “dead” satellites or spent booster upper stages still orbiting, and others are the results of accidents or mishaps, such as the 2009 Cosmos-Iridium collision, some debris is the result of intentionally destructive events, such as China’s test in space of an anti-satellite weapon in 2007.

US emphasizes that ensuring the long-term sustainability, stability, safety, and security of the space environment through measures such as providing prior notifications of launches of space launch vehicles, establishing “best practices guidelines,” and warning of risks of collisions between space objects are in the vital interest of the United States and the entire world community and enhance our mutual security interests.”

The Obama Administration says it is committed to ensuring that an International Code enhances national security and maintains the United States’ inherent right of individual and collective self-defense, a fundamental part of international law. The United States would only subscribe to such a Code of Conduct if it protects and enhances the national and economic security of the United States, allies, and friends. The Administration is committed to keeping the U.S. Congress informed as our consultations with the spacefaring community progress.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.