01:47 GMT +309 December 2019
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    A soldier from Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force helps to prepare surface-to-ship missile launchers at Camp Naha in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture (File)

    Japan to Create Military Space Unit to Catch Up With Rivals - Reports

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    TOKYO (Sputnik) - The Japanese government intends to create a military space unit of the country's Self-Defence Forces in 2020 in connection with the increased use of space for defense purposes by other countries, including the United States, Russia and China, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported on Monday.

    According to the newspaper, it is expected that a new 70-strong unit will be stationed at an airbase in the city of Fuchu west of Tokyo. The plan for its creation was drafted in December 2018.

    The Japanese government is currently working on a ground-based space tracking system comprising a highly sensitive radar and an optical telescope, its operation is expected from 2023, the publication said.

    The main task of the unit will be to monitor space debris, threats of attacks or interference by other countries' satellites.

    Since the Japanese Self-Defence Forces did not have such experience, the unit's employees will be sent for training to the US Armed Forces and to Japanese aerospace agency JAXA.

    Initially, Japanese authorities planned to set up a military space unit in 2022, but it was decided to speed up the work.

    According to the publication, Washington plans to create its own space forces by 2020, that is, almost simultaneously with Japan, and Tokyo sees great opportunities for space cooperation with the United States.

    In April, at the 2+2 format talks between the United States and Japan in Washington, an agreement was reached to equip the Japanese Quasi Zenith Satellite System (QZSS), which is planned for launch in 2023, with a space tracking sensor from the US Defence Department.


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