In an essay in the Asia-Pacific Journal, Maeda Sawako looks at the increasing militarization of Japan’s space efforts, an effort formalized by the “Basic Law on Space” last year:
After two decades of inconsistency between â€œthe Principle of peaceful use of spaceâ€ and the reality of militarized space activity, the new Japanese space law enacted in 2008 lifted the ban on the use of space technology for military purposes.
Japanese space policy reformed in 2008 implies the revision of the meaning of â€œpeacefulâ€ use from â€œnon-militaryâ€ use to â€œnon-aggressiveâ€ use. The revision raises a serious conflict with the second paragraph of Article 9 of the Constitution, which declares that â€œland, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintainedâ€. The first priority of space use in â€œthe Basic Law on Spaceâ€ is given to international and national security. Industrial development is next…
In response to the approval of â€œthe Basic Law on Spaceâ€, the FY2009 space budget is weighted even more heavily toward military purposes. The new BMD budget was appropriated as a space-related project. The total budget for space development is about 349 billion yen with a 10% increase over the FY2008 budget. Most of the increase is in military fields such as IGS, the space-related part of the BMD system, the GX rockets, and the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS)….
Some political leaders of the LDP and of the DPJ have claimed the right to preemptive attack by firing missiles and even nuclear weapons with specific reference to the Korean Peninsula. Such armaments inevitably contradict the Constitution, particularly the second paragraph of Article 9 which prohibits Japan from holding any kind of war potential. Pressures for reform of Article 9 have continued to come from many quarters. Just before the change of the political party in power in August 2009, the Council on Security and Defense Capability (a private council of the prime minister) published a report emphasizing that â€œWe should decide the basic principles on national security policyâ€ in place of â€œthe Exclusively Defense-Oriented Policyâ€. The report calls for review of the constitutional interpretation on the right of collective self-defense, making it lawful in order to make it possible to intercept a missile on its way to the U.S.
Read the full essay.