[ Nippon Keidanren ] [ Policy ]

Towards the Prompt Resumption and Steady Progress of Space Development and Utilization

June 22, 2004

Nippon Keidanren
(Japan Business Federation)

We have deep concerns about the decline of prestige of Japan's space program in its entirety resulting from the rocket and satellite failures in the last year's latter half that sent a negative message to the world about the reliability and from the space program's long-running budgetary constraints under the nation's difficult fiscal situation. The development and utilization of outer space is a vehicle not only to realize the dreams of mankind and to shape the future, but also to form the basic infrastructure indispensable for ensuring the national security and enhancing the convenience of national life now. The fact that Japan has staked its future on its scientific and technological creativity does require, as a matter of national policy, the immediate resumption of space development and utilization, the essence of scientific and technological achievement, and furtherance of its steady progress.

1. Prompt Resumption of Rocket Launches

The failure of the H-IIA6 launch has produced a cascading series of cancellation or postponements of other missions. The prolonged suspension of Japan's space program would lower the level of our space science and technology in its entirety and have an adverse impact on the national life, causing the delay in new technology development and the demoralization. In addition, an immediate resumption of rocket launches is essential for a smoother entry into the commercial launch market after the H-IIA privatization. The government must have the rocket launches resumed as quickly as possible, first by making necessary demonstrations conducted based on the countermeasures developed through isolation and analysis of the causes of the failures.

2. Actions to Raise the Reliability

Major risks are inherent in space development. In order for such risks to be under control it is absolutely inevitable to increase the opportunities of launches and of experimentations in the outer space as well as to enhance the basic database through a number of tests and demonstrations on the ground.

Moreover, as the nature of space missions shifts from the conventional focus on research and development to more diverse forms of activity such as practical goals and transfer of control to the private sector, there is a need to simplify and clarify the responsibilities and authority of the government, space agencies and private-sector enterprises in the forms corresponding to the objective and nature of the missions. We in the industry are prepared to strengthen the partnership with the government, space agencies and business enterprises and to share information associated with these actions.

3. Steady Progress of the Development and Utilization of Space

With regard to the fundamental program of the development and utilization of space, the Council for Science and Technology Policy and the Space Activities Commission of the Japanese government have already been active for some time in making medium- and long-term policy decisions within the framework of establishing Japan as a nation based on its scientific and technological creativity. What is crucial at this point in time is to carry out a steady implementation of the fundamental program pursuant to the national policies that remain unshaken by the recent failures, and to timely and appropriately allocate the resources so as not to fall behind the international trends in this field. In the Third Science and Technology Basic Plan (to commence in the fiscal 2006) the space development should be explicitly positioned as one of our nation's essential technologies.

Strategic planning, resource allocation and program implementation with regard to space and other basic technologies as elements of the national policy does call for strong leadership as well in addition to bottom-up participation.

4. Immediate Issues of Great Importance

(1) Active Utilization of Space on the part of the Government

The utilization of space is one of the most useful tools in effectively acquiring data and information on national security, weather observation, environmental monitoring and the like on a global scale. The government needs to enhance such an aerospace infrastructure as can support improvements in R&D and manufacture of various satellites for communications, global positioning, information gathering and observations as well as in their means of launch, and to promote their active utilization, industrialization and commercialization for enhancing national security, maintaining untroubled living conditions and improving the quality of people's daily life.

Moreover, in light of the increasing importance of utilization of space with regard to national security and crisis management, our interpretation of the principle of peaceful utilization of space should be reviewed in a manner consistent with international norms, making it possible to utilize our advanced aerospace technologies to serve the security and well-being of our people.

In addition, we should strengthen our international ties and cooperative relations within the Asian region and the rest of the world through space development and utilization activities.

(2) Strategic Initiatives with regard to Satellite Positioning

Whereas the United States and the EU nations are all actively pursuing strategic policy initiatives with regard to satellite positioning, Japan has yet to develop a national strategy in this area. We must promptly develop a national strategy for a satellite positioning system, and the government must decide what agencies or institutions should be responsible for its implementation and administration.

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