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2008年11月28日 (金)

宇宙基本計画 戦略的な外交に活用せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 28, 2008)

Diplomacy key concern for space development

宇宙基本計画 戦略的な外交に活用せよ(1128日付・読売社説)

The development and results of Japan's space program must be closely tied to the nation's interests.


An expert panel under the government's Strategic Headquarters for Space Development on Thursday presented its basic outline for a space development strategy.


This outline will be the working draft for discussions on the nation's basic space development program, based on the basic space law enacted in May 2008. The basic space development program is scheduled to be completed around next May.


In the outline, the panel said the nation's space development should be promoted with a view to benefitting five areas--the lives of the people, national security, diplomacy, industrial development and investment in dreams and the next generation.


It is extremely significant that national security and diplomacy have been included in the list of key areas.


A satellite can, for example, distribute and gather information for, and from, numerous locations on the ground. Having an advantage in information gathering and communications is essential in ensuring national security.



Satellites key to security

North Korea, a dangerous country armed with nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, is one of Japan's neighbors. Introduction of a reconnaissance satellite with surveillance capabilities superior to current information-gathering satellites, and an improvement in analysis of satellite images gathered, are urgently needed.


Another pressing issue is construction of a secure communications network as Self-Defense Forces engage in an increasing number of overseas missions.


The use of space by the SDF should be discussed in broad terms, and the results of such discussions should be reflected in next year's revision of the National Defense Program Outline.


It also is important to state that space development should be actively used to bolster the nation's diplomatic activities.


Developing countries also hold high expectations for space use, including possible technology to help tackle climate change and an expansion of communication and broadcasting services. China is helping such countries launch their own satellites in return for their natural resources.


Japan has been providing meteorological observation information and satellite images following major natural disasters to more than 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Based on such success, Japan will be able to lead joint development of satellites and construction of a disaster monitoring network with these countries.



Overcoming a late start

Japan should overcome its late start in "space diplomacy" by exploiting its official development assistance in a strategic manner.


Improving people's lives and industrial development also are important considerations. These issues should be fleshed out with specific proposals, such as monitoring growth of crops by analyzing satellite images and boosting technical advantages in industrial fields.


The government also should not forget to discuss whether Japan should be aiming for manned space activities. Such activities have never been discussed due to concerns over high costs. Although the basic outline does not touch on these points, they are still of great interest to the public.


The government should not rule out the possibility of manned space activities from the outset, and should instead study the potential for such a program from a medium- to long-term perspective.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 28, 2008)

200811280159  読売新聞)


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