Japan Centralizes Control Of Nation’s Space Programs

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The Japanese government established a new executive office July 12 to assume control of all of the nation’s space programs.

The Space Strategy Office will be led by Japan’s minister for space development, Motohisa Furukawa, and will be responsible for planning, program execution and budgeting, according University of Tokyo professor Takafumi Matsui, the chief architect of the new office.

The Space Strategy Office replaces the Space Activities Commission, a Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology committee that oversaw the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The new Space Strategy Office, in contrast, has been bumped up to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet office and will oversee Japan’s entire space budget, not just the 60 percent that belongs to JAXA.The establishment of the Space Strategy Office was made possible by a raft of legislation Japan’s parliament enacted June 20 to abolish the Space Activities Commission, establish the new office and change JAXA’s founding law to allow it to develop military space programs in line with international norms under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.