Japan’s foreign ministry headquarters in Tokyo. Credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

SEOUL, South Korea — Japan and Australia have joined international condemnation of Russia for testing an anti-satellite weapon Nov. 15 that created over 1,500 pieces of debris in low Earth orbit. 

In a Nov. 18 statement, Japan’s foreign ministry called the test “an irresponsible behavior that undermines sustainable and stable use of outer space.” The ministry said the test also “runs counter to the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines” adopted unanimously by the member states of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), including Russia, in 2007. The guidelines require that member states avoid the intentional destruction of any on-orbit space objects that can generate long-lived space debris, the ministry noted.

“The Government of Japan expresses concerns towards the test and calls upon the Government of Russia not to conduct this kind of test in the future,” it said. 

The ministry said it’s “necessary” to make international rules on responsible behaviors in outer space, for which it will “engage actively in the discussions in the international arena.”

Australian defense minister Peter Dutton called the test “a provocative and dangerous act that demonstrated the threats to space systems are real, serious and growing.”

“The world increasingly relies on space for security, public safety, communications and commerce,” Dutton said in a Nov. 17 statement. “This test by Russia, combined with other recent counter-space weapons testing, calls into question Russia’s sincerity in promoting security in space.”

In the same statement, Sen. Marise Payne, Australia’s minister for foreign affairs, said Australia was “committed to working with all nations on the challenges and initiatives to ensure the long-term sustainability, safety and security of the space domain.” 

Payne said “Russia’s actions are not those of a nation committed to ensuring the peaceful use of space nor the prevention of an arms race in outer space.”

Australia said it continues to work with the United States, Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, as well as other spacefaring nations to advance the development of international norms and responsible behavior in space. 

Earlier, South Korea “expressed concern” over the debris created as the test’s consequence, while China remains silent on the issue.

In 2007, China drew condemnation from the United States and allied nations when it demonstrated its ability to take out satellites by destroying its own defunct satellite, Fengyun-1C, with a missile.

Park Si-soo covers space industries in South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. Park worked at The Korea Times — South Korea's leading English language newspaper — from 2007 to 2020. He earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Korea...