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Japan Space The Military Politics

Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019 150

Taco Cowboy writes Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019. The Mainichi Shimbun is reporting that Japan plans to create a "space force" within its existing Self Defence Force, hoping to have it operational by 2019. Japan would provide the US military with information obtained by the force as part of the joint bid to strengthen ties in space, the so-called "fourth battlefield", Kyodo news agency said, citing unnamed sources. Note that this plan, which involves simply looking into space using old civilian astronomy equipment and radar, is just the beginning. The transforming space fighters and combat mechs will presumably come later.
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Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019

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  • by hooiberg ( 1789158 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:25AM (#47599367)
    ... required to operate those space mechs? Child Labour is frowned upon, these enlightened days.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are you confusing Japan with China?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:44AM (#47599555)
        I think this is a reference to Evangelion, Gundam Wing or any of a number of other Japanese television shows involving mechs piloted by teenagers.
        • It's funny, this is actually dealt with in Gundam X. The captain of the ship that everyone rides around in was a veteran child soldier who fought in the war that ruined everything. He wound up with pretty bad PTSD.

        • Probably one of the better examples. A movie, not a TV series. Involve the use of children using mechs to fight in a war against aliens in distant space. Interestingly enough, the movie isn't really about this, but rather the long distance relationship between a girl that gets recruited, and a boy who does not. Presumably they use children because of reflexes, or size, or more likely the length of time involved.

          What makes this story most interesting is that all the communication is done VIA texting. Yes Spa

  • by Anonymous Coward

    super villians and aliens are such a nusiance. Superman is really busy, so spending the money on this is way overdue.

  • ...just the right event to kick off a new space race.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:29AM (#47599407)
    Which of the hypothetical weapons is slated to protect us from Planet Bankruptcy?
    • GX-01.
    • Don't worry, Japanese Reagan is confident the wealth will start to trickle down any day now!

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        You joke, but the Japanese have tried that, and almost every other economic idea imaginable over the past 25 or so years of recession. It shows how far our collective understanding of economics is from anything useful. The only dependable advice is "don't pick up that much debt in the first place". Advice which every modern nation seems determined to ignore at any cost (well, not just modern, most throughout history as well).

        • Regardless, visit Japan and you'd never know their economy had been stagnant for over two decades. I'd take that kind of stagnation to American "growth" any day. They may be running a huge deficit, but at least the money seems to be used more productively than it ever is in the US. I'd love to see the kinds of massive infrastructure projects they undertake introduced over here. Stimulus spending in America consists of pointless and useless beautification on some stretch of road, not a new bridge link to cut

        • I wasn't joking that much. Shinzo Abe has a lot in common with Reagan (including big weird hair) and Abenomics is a lot like Reaganomics. Similarly it's gutting their lower and middle classes and achieving nothing other than running up the high score numbers of the ultra-rich.

          • by lgw ( 121541 )

            Well, since your analysis of Reanagomics is so wrong, I can only assume your analysis of Abe is equally screwy, but my point was it's all so damn subjective - we can't even agree on economic events of the 80s. All we know objectively is that we don't know any sure recipe for getting out from under.

    • Wave motion gun, obviously.
    • Space Battleship Yamato.

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:32AM (#47599431) Homepage
    I could have sworn that there was a non militarization of space treaty in place
    • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:43AM (#47599547) Homepage
      looks like i was correct - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes and expressly prohibits their use for testing weapons of any kind, conducting military maneuvers, or establishing military bases, installations, and fortifications (Art.IV). However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit. The treaty also states that the exploration of outer space shall be done to benefit all countries and shall be free for exploration and use by all the States. The treaty explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet, claiming that they are the common heritage of mankind.[3] Art. II of the Treaty states that "outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means". However, the State that launches a space object retains jurisdiction and control over that object.[4] The State is also liable for damages caused by their space object.[5]

      • damn tablet double tap.

        I wonder how they will define "WMD" vs "conventional" weapons. wouldnt a conventional weapon shot from space at the earth have a much higher velocity than the same weapon used on earth?? I just dont see the need to weaponize space
      • And the Japanese plan as described is entirely consistent with that treaty.

    • by Meneth ( 872868 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:46AM (#47599577)
      Yes, the Outer Space Treaty [wikipedia.org]. Japan has signed and ratified it. However, as Wikipedia says, "the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit."
      • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @12:02PM (#47600275)

        The problem is we always had a sort of informal treaty with the Russians that we wouldn't go after their space based assets and likewise they wouldn't either.

        The problem is the Chinese have taken an aggressive approach to neutralizing US space assets in the event of conflict. The believe they could win a conflict with the US by eliminating the space advantage the US enjoys. In fact their strategy appears to believe that US battlefield superiority is tied almost exclusively to US space based assets. I think they will ultimately be surprised by how effective such a strategy would be and how much blowback they'd get from the world after they shoot down a bunch of GPS satellites.

        Ultimately that's what this agreement with Japan is about, attempting to neutralize or degrade the ASAT (anti-satellite) capabilities of the Chinese. Japan is critically positioned to shoot down ASAT weapons fired from China.

        • It's de facto exactly the same. In the case of a war, any sort of informal treaty with Russia would have been forgotten and we would have taken out the other's space based assets. Of course. It's not like "they're raining death down on us from above...but we're powerless to stop them! We have an informal treaty!"

          And certainly China doesn't believe it could "win" a conflict with the US. And the US military procedures and military systems are designed with the idea that GPS may become unavailable (anyway

          • Even formal treaties involving WMD do not seem to apply once war starts: NATO Nuclear Weapons Sharing [wikipedia.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's called the Outer Space Treaty. Japan has ratified they treaty.

      But as far as I understand it only bans placing nukes in outerspace.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:50AM (#47599613) Journal

      I could have sworn that there was a non militarization of space treaty in place

      According to TFA, this 'military space force' is a somewhat hyperbolic description of orbital debris tracking(presumably for satellite protection, as such systems currently are). Depending on the local appetite for defense contracts and the diplomatic PR issues such a purely 'defensive' system will have a greater or lesser chance of becoming the target acquisition mechanism for some sort of anti-satellite system on the ground.

      To the best of public knowledge, I don't think anyone has yet followed through on some grand design to put weapons on satellites; but you can put more or less whatever you want on the ground and satellites are not known for their durability...

      • So it's more like a Space Coast Guard than a Space Navy?

        • It depends on the orbit of course; but the metaphorical waters are muddied a bit because it's more like a Space Coast Guard than a Space Navy; but in a world with every country with an enthusiasm for missiles or lasers has its own personal Strait of Hormuz, a mixture of everybody's military and civilian shipping passes through all of them every 90 minutes or so, and if some asshole forgets to anchor his dingy it might break into hundreds of lethal fragments and sink a couple of oil tankers and a bulk carrie
      • by Anonymous Coward

        To the best of public knowledge, I don't think anyone has yet followed through on some grand design to put weapons on satellites

        The Soviets put a 23mm autocannon on their Almaz space station.

        They also created a nuclear orbital bombardment system to put warheads into low Earth orbit to attack the US. It was called (in English) FOBS; Fractional Orbital Bombardment System. The LEO boosters and de-orbit systems were tested with dummy warheads and the system was put into service in '69. Their command economy couldn't sustain further development so they traded it in for SALT II negotiating points.

    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @11:02AM (#47599707) Journal

      Japan Announces a Military Shift to Thwart China
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/02/world/asia/japan-moves-to-permit-greater-use-of-its-military.html [nytimes.com]

      Japan's prime minister announced a reinterpretation of the country's pacifist Constitution on Tuesday, freeing its military for the first time in over 60 years to play a more assertive role in the increasingly tense region.

      The antiwar Constitution remains enough of a touchstone for many in Japan that the reinterpretation has spurred rare street protests, and even the self-immolation of a lone protester in Tokyo this week.

      The Obama administration said Tuesday that it welcomed Japan's action, adding that it would aid the country's armed forces to "do more within the framework of our alliance."

      This is all about China.
      Even the source article [mainichi.jp] brings up China.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Japan is a dying country with no resources. China is a growing country with a hell of a lot of resources. Which country do you want to do business with?
        • Japan is a dying country with no resources. China is a growing country with a hell of a lot of resources. Which country do you want to do business with?

          The only one that manufacturers capacitors worth a damn?

  • Bring on space battles. I want space battles in my life time. I know aliens probably won't happen and neither will colonizing aonther planet or even the moon, but at least let me have space ship battles.

  • the reality is... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The reality, is man vs man space combat will likely never happen. Organics are too vulnerable. If there is ever combat in space, it will be via drones sniping each other over ridiculously long distances.

    • If we ever get to that point, it might also be the end of the space age. With billions of small particles in orbit from all the blown up drones, there won't be a safe orbit left for civilian satellites.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Middle East has the world's eyes, but it is no more than two drunks fighting behind a cantina compared to what happens if the Pacific Rim goes up.

    People dislike the US, but one thing America has been good at has been keeping the peace in that theater since WWII.

    The Pacific Rim affects the world. People don't realize that the casualties of WWI were dwarfed by civil wars in China, or the magnitude of people, technology, and military might in the region.

    It is understandable (and reasonable) for Japan to d

  • by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:35AM (#47599485)
    Yes, what a great idea! Lets blow shit up in space making *anything* in orbit impossible.

    Who needs weather satellites, GPS, and communication equipment anyway?
    • You could blow the junk into smaller pieces so they will burn up faster too.

      But a military space race would be a good thing towards progress in space.
      It gives governments reasons to invest into space.

      Plus they will need to build up so they are not the wimpiest ones in space.

      • by Meneth ( 872868 )
        Even small pieces won't burn up at all unless you push them downwards into the atmosphere first. Explosions tend to push things in every direction, including up and sideways, which is something we really don't want.
        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          The atmosphere is not a yes/no thing. There's not much drag in LEO, but it's not 0. Over time, orbits there decay. And the more non-circular an orbit (as tends to be the case from explosions), the more likely it will pass through thicker atmosphere at perigee. Just one more case where if violence isn't solving your problem, you're not using enough of it.

      • I'm not a fan of that thinking. A military space race will essentially lead to a new cold war. The last one wasn't very fun. Scientific progress doesn't get the praise it deserves when half the world thinks it will lead to their imminent destruction. Hell, Sputnik had kids hiding under school desks when they should have been celebrating a landmark for our species.
    • by wiggles ( 30088 )

      All of that is secondary to survival, and until we figure out how to make government leaders stop being such assholes, threatening each others' populations with annihilation, we're going to need plans for defense - and if the enemy leverages space for any tactical or strategic advantage, then so must we.

      That said, the article says they're just using telescopes to track stuff in space for military purposes, not building Gundams, so you can untwist your panties now that you know this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Though in principle, I agree "no space war" -- Japan is just desperate due to the pressure from Manga and Anime to build space flying battle suits.

      We may get a few tiny mummified bodies floating in space encased in really impractical anthropomorphic battle suits that die because the giant sword threw off their flight profile and occupant spiraled into a roller coaster 'death vomit". Really, there's nothing here to worry about -- it's a self correcting problem.

    • what a great idea! Lets blow shit up in space

      FTFA: "The term brings to mind dystopian visions of fighters patrolling near space, but will actually revolve around protecting satellites from space debris orbiting the Earth."

      • FTFA: "The term brings to mind dystopian visions of fighters patrolling near space, but will actually revolve around protecting satellites from space debris orbiting the Earth."

        Planetes [wikipedia.org] anyone?

    • by bmajik ( 96670 )

      Who needs weather satellites, GPS, and communication equipment anyway?

      In the modern world, we all do. Which is why we should be more alarmed that all of these things are so very vulnerable to an increasingly long list of state-actors who don't like the West, and are so difficult to replace on short notice.

      We've "gotten away with it" for a long time now. But any honest person knew those days were numbered.

      At some point, we're going to have to really deal with the problem of space junk, and with the problem

      • People don't understand how important GPS is these days. Loran has been more or less shuttered, so there's no real backup. The part that really scares me is that oil rigs are held stationary by massive rotors. Those rotors are controlled by GPS. If they lose signal, imagine every oil rig on earth suddenly snapping off the top of the oil pipelines that are below them. Imagine hundreds of deepwater horizon style events across the entire world.
        • by bmajik ( 96670 )

          Your James Bond film sounds very intriguing and I would like to subscribe to your... movie.

    • Blowing shit up is entirely unlike the Japanese plan described.

    • by RyoShin ( 610051 )

      Looks like Japan has considered that angle. [theguardian.com] I don't know about naming something from Japan "S.T.A.R.S. [wikia.com]", though...

  • by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday August 04, 2014 @10:40AM (#47599521) Journal

    Let's hope it's comprised of 5 giant mechanical lions that can combine together into a single massive mechanical humanoid.

  • Space Battleship Yamato.... finally...

  • I watched that as a kid.

    • I still have the entire first series on video tape and part of the second.

      Favorite part, by far, is their battle inside Planet Gamolon. Nothing better than watching it at night, lights off, volume to 11.

      Not advisable if you are prone to epileptic seizures.

  • The article headline here makes it sound like Japan is getting ready to start space warfare, when in fact the article itself says that this program is meant to protect existing orbital assets by tracking space debris. I don't get why they use the term "fourth battlefield" in the article either, since it doesn't seem like anyone affiliated with this program actually said that. If anything, this sounds like it could lead to efforts to capture space junk and dispose of it safely.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      ...and thats where it starts..
      I guarantee it won't be long until someone uses the word "terrorism" to excuse any and all radical deviations from the program's original agenda.

      • Really, that's all they need to do to secure funding. "We have reliable intelligence saying that somewhere, some how, space terrorists will act terroristly."
  • Looks like Japan is trying to make a good excuse for a transforming mech... so let's call them Gundams :D
    • by voss ( 52565 )

      Gundams are easy. Breeding Tsundere girls with naturally pink and blue hair...a bit harder.

  • need to stop space godzilla

  • We're leaving Mother Earth, To save the human race, Our Star Blazers...

    yada yada yada

  • Isn't that paper like the Japanese equivalent to the Weekly World News, or the National Enquirer?
  • "I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe; attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I've watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those... moments... will be lost... in time, like... tears... in rain."

  • it could go either way.

  • Will they call the Science Patrol, and fight Kaiju?

  • Code name: Star Blazers! Cue the theme, raise the Yamato, and ready the wave motion gun!

  • If you find an A6M on your tail and you have the maneuverability advantage, turn sharp right. If you don't have the maneuverability advantage, don't try to dogfight, make a steep dive, get away, rejoin the fight.
  • space force is my new favorite term.
  • Japan will create its Space Force, better known as Star Force, in 2199. The article has a typo.

  • If Japan wants to do this, they'll have to do something about the (un)reliability of their rockets and probes.

    The track record so far isn't exactly wonderful and indications are that the problems are cultural rather than technical (If you're brought up not to question authority, you don't interrupt your superior when he's making a mistake - even if that mistake might be crashing an aircraft, or putting a flawed rocket motor design together.)

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.