Japan has become the third international partner to agree to a U.S. plan to extend operations of the International Space station to 2024 — albeit with a condition.
“We will faithfully implement the schedule for our basic space program and work on an aggressive space strategy,” Abe said at a ministerial meeting on space development.
As the sole Asian member of the ISS project, Japan plans to stick with the extended project on the condition that other Asian countries are given a chance to use the Japanese laboratory unit Kibo, which is currently shared with the United States.
The government apparently believes opening Kibo for other countries would help Japan and the United States increase their presence in Asia at a time when China is rising as a new major power in space exploration.
Russia and Canada have agreed to the four-year extension. ESA has not reached a decision yet.