Japan, U.S. Agree to Boost Defense Cooperation in Outer Space

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the head of the U.S. Space Force today, on Thursday agreed to enhance bilateral defense cooperation in outer space, where regional rivals China and Russia are building up their capabilities, Kyodo reported.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond was visiting Japan for the first time since the creation of the Space Force and his appointment in December last year. He was the first high-ranking foreign official to meet with Abe since late February, with such meetings halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Abe and Raymond discussed strengthening cooperation between the Space Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Space Operations Squadron, as well as the U.S. plan to send astronauts back to the Moon by 2024, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Created in May with just 20 members, the Space Operations Squadron is tasked with monitoring threats to Japanese satellites such as space debris and meteorites. It is expected to grow in size and become fully operational in 2023.