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2008年5月23日 (金)


05/23/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, May 22(IHT/Asahi: May 23,2008)

EDITORIAL: Law on using space for defense


After just a total of four hours of debate in both houses, the Diet on Wednesday enacted a law to open the door for Japan to make use of space for military purposes.


The new basic space law represents a clear departure from a 1969 Diet resolution that limited Japan's space development to peaceful purposes. But the new law changes that decades-old policy and allows military use of space, stating that space programs must be carried out in ways that are "beneficial for Japan's national security."


Actually, the Self-Defense Forces are already using multipurpose information-gathering satellites, aka spy satellites.

Now, the law makes it legally possible for Japan to operate not just spy satellites but also early-warning satellites that watch for signs of enemy missile attacks.


Space technology has made dramatic progress in the past four decades, with huge implications for Japan's security.

Be that as it may, the abrupt way this change in fundamental principle concerning space development was rushed through enactment--with hardly any parliamentary debate--is extremely troubling.



There is nothing wrong with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito party coalition and the opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) agreeing on key policy issues.

But they should not have pushed the legislation through as quickly as they did without allowing a long and informed public debate on this important shift in space policy.


The law raises a number of issues and concerns that need to be addressed.


issues=問題)(参考:point at issue=問題点)(address=問題の解決のために努力する)

Article 1 of the law says Japan's space development should be consistent with "the pacifist principles of the Constitution." But it does not clearly specify what kind of program is deemed "beneficial for Japan's national security."


(Pacifist=平和)(be deemed=であると考えられる)

The following principles should be confirmed through the process of formulating and debating related laws and regulations.


First, for Japan to deploy offensive weapons in space would clearly violate the Constitution's principle of self-defense. It is simply out of the question for this nation to attack satellites or use satellites for attacks on ground targets.


Second, the government must also ensure that Japanese space programs do not in any way heighten international tensions or provoke a new arms race.



It might be possible to win public support, for instance, for the operation of an intelligence-gathering satellite that is more sophisticated and capable than the current one if it is aimed at keeping watch on North Korea's moves, since that country is hostile to Japan and developing nuclear arms despite international rules.



But it would be a completely different story if Japanese satellites were to be incorporated into a future missile defense system that views China and Russia as potential security threats to Japan.


Japan's involvement in such a system would raise tensions across East Asia and worldwide and could trigger a new arms race. There is no way for Japan to justify playing such a role.


Besides, there is a lesson to be learned from the fact that a U.S. plan to deploy a missile defense system in Europe, allegedly in response to security threats posed by Iran and other countries, has provoked strong protests from Russia.


Japan must stay in touch with reality.

Some pundits argue that powerful spy satellites with a high reconnaissance capability could be used as an effective deterrence to attack.

But it is hard to believe Japan needs a sophisticated early-warning system costing huge amounts of money.



This issue should also be weighed after we consider the security roles divided between Japan and the United States.


be weighed=評価する、慎重に考える)

If the transparency of space programs is undermined by claims of national security, the nation's entire space development program could become compromised.


transparency=透明性)(be undermined=弱らせる、浸食する、浸食される、蝕まれる)(become compromised=危うくなる)

The Diet has a duty to rigorously scrutinize each specific plan for military use of space and thereby establish solid principles for such use of space.



--The Asahi Shimbun, May 22(IHT/Asahi: May 23,2008)

朝日新聞 5月22日号 (英語版 2008年5月23日発行)


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