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Japan Defense Ministry seeks record ¥5.4 trillion budget

The Japan Times

Japan's Defense Ministry said Wednesday its budget request reached a record ¥5.4 trillion for fiscal 2021, marking the eighth straight rise partly to address new threats including from space. The amount is up 3.3 percent from the ministry's initial budget for fiscal 2020, which started in April. The request includes ¥200 million for research on small satellites to monitor cutting-edge missiles not detectable with existing equipment. The ministry hopes to introduce the new satellite system in cooperation with the United States. The budget request also includes ¥34.3 billion for the development of satellites for space surveillance.


Japan's new space squadron takes a giant leap forward

The Japan Times

OSAKA – Defense Minister Taro Kono officially inaugurated Japan's first Space Operations Squadron during a May 18 ceremony in Tokyo. The squadron's realization marks a large step forward for the nation's space ambitions at a time when, due to an increased number of satellite launches, the Earth's near space is more crowded than ever. What is the structure and mission of the Space Operations Squadron? The new squadron, located at Tokyo's Fuchu Air Base, is part of the Air Self-Defense Force. It is made up of 20 members, which will gradually be expanded to 100 when it becomes operational in 2023.


Japan's Defense Ministry successfully launches first communications satellite

The Japan Times

An H-IIA rocket carrying the Kirameki-2 defense communication satellite was launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Kirameki-2 satellite is one of three defense communications satellites that will replace three civilian satellites currently used by the Self-Defense Forces. According to Defense Ministry officials, the new satellites will enhance direct communication among units of the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces through a high-speed and high-capacity network amid increased North Korean missile activity and potential threats to the nation's remote islands. The ministry plans to position the Kirameki-2 over the Indian Ocean and expects the satellite to also be utilized by SDF personnel taking part in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and those participating in an anti-piracy mission in waters off Somalia, it said. The launch of the Kirameki-2 precedes that of the Kirameki-1, which is undergoing repair after it was damaged during transportation to a launch site in French Guiana in South America.


Japan's Defense Ministry to launch first communications satellite

The Japan Times

An H-2A rocket carrying the Kirameki-2 defense communication satellite will be launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. at 4:44 p.m. from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture. The Kirameki-2 satellite is one of three defense communications satellites that will replace three civilian satellites currently used by the Self-Defense Forces. According to Defense Ministry officials, the new satellites will enhance direct communication among units of the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces through a high-speed and high-capacity network amid increased North Korean missile activity and potential threats to the nation's remote islands. The ministry plans to position the Kirameki-2 over the Indian Ocean and expects the satellite to also be utilized by SDF personnel taking part in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and those participating in an anti-piracy mission in waters off Somalia, it said. The launch of the Kirameki-2 precedes that of the Kirameki-1, which is undergoing repair after it was damaged during transportation to a launch site in French Guiana in South America.


Japan's Defense Ministry to launch second SDF space unit next fiscal year

The Japan Times

The Defense Ministry plans to establish a second space operations unit at the Air Self-Defense Force's Hofu Kita Air Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture in fiscal 2022, informed sources said Saturday. The squadron will monitor sabotage activities against Japanese satellites. Japan aims to keep up with the United States and China in the field of space, which is becoming a new area of competition between world powers. The planned launch of the new space unit was included in the ministry's fiscal 2022 budget requests announced in August. Later, the ministry chose the Hofu Kita base for the new unit because it is a suitable site for the monitoring of satellites flying over Japan, the sources said.