Pursuant to the shared goal of continuing to advance bilateral space cooperation and to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance as declared by the leaders of both nations, the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America held the Seventh Meeting of the Japan-U.S. Comprehensive Dialogue on Space in Tokyo, on August 26, 2020. This Dialogue represents the strong and shared commitment of two of the world’s most advanced spacefaring nations to enhance further bilateral space cooperation and to cooperate closely with the international community toward ensuring the continuous, safe, and stable use of outer space for current and future generations.
This meeting was co-chaired by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Space Policy Secretariat, Cabinet Office for Japan, and by representatives from the Executive Office of the President’s National Space Council and National Security Council for the United States. Principal participants included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; National Space Policy Secretariat; National Security Secretariat; Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications; Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Sciences and Technology (MEXT); Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Ministry of Defense; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA); and National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) from the Japanese side, and the Department of State, Defense, and Commerce; and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from the U.S. side.
Through this Dialogue, Japan and the United States continue to work to enhance and strengthen cooperation between the two countries from a broad, inclusive, and strategic perspective. With the participation of experts from across the two governments, the Dialogue series emphasizes a whole-of-government approach to civil, commercial, and national security space interests and cooperation.
At this meeting, both sides provided updates on their respective space policies, including the recent revision of the Basic Plan on Space Policy on the Japanese side and the release of the Defense Space Strategy on the U.S. side. Both sides renewed their strong determination to expand bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas including space security, international rule-making, space situational awareness (SSA), space exploration, commercial space activities, and global navigation satellite systems and to seek opportunities for cooperation with third countries and in international fora. Both sides engage in robust bilateral cooperation in Earth observation, including weather forecasting, Earth science, land and ocean observation, and environmental and space weather monitoring. Together both sides also take lead roles in multilateral coordination of the global observing system. Japanese and U.S. weather and Earth observation satellite systems are essential components of the global observing system on which other nations rely. Both sides also discussed other important issues regarding space utilization, such as space resources and the use of space for Maritime Domain Awareness. The United States welcomed Japan’s effort to establish a new framework for satellite development and demonstration.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to Artemis, the U.S.-led international space exploration program through which the United States and its international and commercial partners will sustainably explore the Moon in preparation for a human mission to Mars. Both sides welcomed the further development of a wide range of cooperative Artemis activities related to the Gateway and lunar surface exploration. Both sides also acknowledged opportunities for Japanese crew activities as highlighted in the Joint Exploration Declaration of Intent for Lunar Cooperation between MEXT and NASA signed in July 2020. Both sides acknowledged the importance of the International Space Station (ISS). Specifically, Japan congratulated the United States on the recent successful test flight of its new crew vehicle to the ISS from U.S. soil, and the United States congratulated Japan on the successful flight of the final HTV cargo resupply mission to the ISS and noted that the United States is looking forward to the next generation HTV-X cargo resupply missions. Both sides recognized the important role of the private sector in exploring the frontier of outer space. Both sides acknowledged the ongoing efforts to create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science, and commercial activities in outer space and reaffirmed the mutual commitment to finalize the legal framework for the Gateway cooperation and accelerate discussions on the Artemis Accords.
Recognizing the increasing importance of space for national security as well as the dependence of contemporary society on space systems, both sides welcomed significant developments in their respective defense institutions, namely, the establishment of the Space Operations Squadron of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Space Command and Space Force of the United States. In light of the inherent vulnerability of space systems and growing concern for threats to the continuous, safe, and stable use of outer space, both sides committed to enhance cooperation on SSA and mission assurance. In this regard, both sides welcomed that Japan’s Cabinet Office and the U.S. Department of Defense have substantially approved the detailed implementing arrangements concerning the plan to host U.S.-provided SSA payloads on Japan’s Quasi-Zenith Satellites to be launched by the end of March 2024. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of the rule of law in outer space and further reiterated the importance of responsible behavior in outer space and transparency and confidence building measures (TCBMs).
Both sides shared the view that it was important for leading spacefaring nations to promote bilateral and multilateral space cooperation with transparency and discussed possible ways for the two countries, with partners, to cooperate in expanding space activities and utilization to address the needs of other nations, especially in the Indo-Pacific region. Both sides recognized the role of space applications such as satellite-based Earth observation and navigation in the context of solving global issues including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Amid the unprecedented crisis due to the outbreak of COVID-19, this meeting provided the two countries with a valuable opportunity to discuss emergency responses in the space sector and utilization of space to address challenges that the international community faces today. Both sides reconfirmed the strategic value of the Japan-U.S. Comprehensive Dialogue on Space as a mechanism to guide overall bilateral space cooperation policies and reaffirmed that this Dialogue would continue to strengthen cooperative relations between the two countries across ministries, departments, and agencies.
Both sides concurred on holding the Eighth meeting of the Dialogue in the United States in 2021.
(The Japanese version of this document is online here.)