The Japanese parliament has approved legislation that would allow the country to make enhanced military use of space. The upper house of the Diet overwhelmingly approved the bill Tuesday; the lower house previously passed the bill. The bill is described as “lifting a 1969 ban on military use of outer space”, although that prohibition has not prevented Japan from launching several “Information Gathering Satellites” over the last five years. Besides the military provision, the bill encourages the Japanese government to spend more on space programs in general and make the country’s space industry more competitive.
J. Thomas Schieffer, the US ambassador to Japan, gave a speech Tuesday on US-Japan military relations and was asked about the new legislation. “I don’t specifically have a thought on how it will change things,” he said, “but I think that the law is a recognition of modern reality, that with missile defense and all that it entails, you have to have the ability to hit an adversary wherever that adversary might be trying to hit you.”