U.S., Japan Sign Pact on Space Situational Awareness

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WASHINGTON — The United States and Japan have agreed in principle on a legal framework for the provision of U.S. space situational awareness (SSA) data to Japan and will pursue closer cooperation in a number of other space-related areas, according to a joint statement issued March 11 by the two governments.

The two sides are interested in closer cooperation in space-based navigation, Earth observation, weather, human spaceflight and asteroid detection, according to the statement, issued from Tokyo at the conclusion of the inaugural meeting of the “Comprehensive Dialogue on Space.” The meeting was attended by representatives from various departments of both governments, including those responsible for defense and civil space.

“The convening of this first Comprehensive Dialogue on Space begins a new initiative to enhance cooperation between two of the world’s most advanced spacefaring nations from a broad, inclusive, and strategic perspective,” the statement said. “With the participation of experts from across both governments, the Dialogue ensures a whole-of-government approach to space issues and space cooperation relevant to a wide range of interests, including resource and disaster management, environmental monitoring, technology development, scientific discovery, national and international security, and economic growth.”

The United States, which operates the world’s most capable space surveillance network, has expressed interest in negotiating SSA data-sharing agreements with a number of countries, including Japan. The “ad referendum” agreement on the framework for sharing U.S. SSA data with Japan was reached March 7, the statement said.

The two sides also reaffirmed their interest in transparency and confidence-building measures, which are likely to be featured in an international code of conduct for space activity that the United States is pursuing in cooperation with the European Union.

The two sides agreed to hold the second Comprehensive Dialogue on Space meeting in Washington early next year, the statement said.