Origins and Current State of Japan Reconnaissance Satellite

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Origins and Current State of Japan’s
Reconnaissance Satellite Program (U)
William W. Radcliffe

                                              On 28 November 2009, Tokyo                 Taepo Dong missile launch over
                                            successfully launched its fifth              the Japanese archipelago
                                            indigenously produced joho                   spurred Tokyo to undertake a
                                            shushu eisei or “intelligence-               crash program to build and
                                            gathering satellite.” According              launch its own reconnaissance

                “                           to Japanese media, this second-              satellites. A survey of the open
                                            generation satellite can iden-               source record of events prior to
    The November 2009                       tify objects as small as 60 cm, a            the summer of 1998, however,
                                            marked improvement over                      shows that Japanese political
    launch marked the
                                            Japan’s first generation electro-            leaders were in the final stages
 continuation of Japan’s                                                                 of reviewing plans for a recon-
                                            optical satellites that were only
 reconnaissance satellite                   able to identify objects as small            naissance satellite program
  program, which put its                    as 1 m. The November 2009                    using technology under devel-
first satellites into orbit in              launch marked the continua-                  opment since the 1980s.
         early 2003.                        tion of Japan’s reconnaissance
                                            satellite program, which put its               Officials from the Liberal

                ”                           first satellites into orbit in early         Democratic Party (LDP), the
                                            2003. Two more satellites were               Cabinet Intelligence and
                                            successfully launched individu-              Research Office (CIRO), and
                                            ally in late 2006 and in early               the then-Defense Agency (DA)
                                            2007—a pair of satellites had                had been actively studying the
                                            been lost in a catastrophic                  possibility of establishing a pro-
                                            launch failure in late 2003, and             gram to build and launch dedi-
                                            one of the original pair                     cated reconnaissance satellites
                                            launched in 2003 reportedly                  since at least the early 1990s.
                                            ceased functioning in March                  By August 1998 Japanese polit-
                                            2007. The satellite orbitted last            ical leaders were in discussions
                                            year was to complete a three-                with Japanese conglomerates to
                                            month testing period before                  build and launch reconnais-
                                            replacing the first electro-opti-            sance satellites. The advanced
                                            cal satellite launched in 2003,              nature of the discussions and
                                            which was designed to have a                 Japanese technology firms’
                                            five-year lifespan. a

                                             It is commonly held that                    a “Japan Launches H-2A Rocket Carrying

                                            North Korea’s August 1998                    New Intelligence-Gathering Satellite,”
                                                                                         Kyodo World Service, 28 November 2009.

                                           All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed in this article are those of the
                                           authors. Nothing in the article should be construed as asserting or implying US gov-
                                           ernment endorsement of an article’s factual statements and interpretations.

Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)                                                                9
Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

Decades of experience in developing satellite and remote
sensing technologies provided the basis for the rapid construc-                        Notwithstanding the rela-
tion and launch of reconnaissance satellites.                                        tively poor resolution, the imag-
                                                                                     ery’s implication was clear: a
                                                                                     Japanese-built satellite was
decades-long experience in                   eral meters and at that time            producing overhead imagery of
developing satellite and remote              was scheduled to be launched in         possible foreign military sites in
sensing technologies provided                2002. The Agency would draw             Asia. And while the Yomiuri
the basis for the rapid construc-            heavily from technology devel-          Shimbun did not report specifi-
tion and launch of reconnais-                oped for ALOS in building its           cally which offices had access to
sance satellites.                            first-generation reconnaissance         the imagery, the DA most likely
                                             satellites in the early 2000s, as       had seen the photos; it was by
                                             detailed below.                         then purchasing imagery from
                                                                                     commercial vendors. The DA
  By the early 1990s, Japanese                 Moreover, Tokyo employed its          had purchased and analyzed
government–supported                         indigenously developed obser-           imagery from Landsat (with a
research into satellite and                  vation satellites for reconnais-        resolution of 30 m) since at
remote-sensing technologies                  sance in the late 1980s and             least 1985 and from France’s
was coming to fruition. The Sci-             early 1990s. In August 1993, an         Spot satellite (with a resolution
ence and Technology Agency                   unnamed “military official in           of 10 m) since 1987. c The
(STA), responsible for support-              Tokyo” provided the Yomiuri             Ground Self-Defense Forces
ing research in the area, had                Shimbun with three overhead             (GSDF) had also ordered recon-
been deeply involved in                      imagery photos of Chinese air-          naissance photography from
research and development of                  field and port construction on          Landsat in the early 1990s of
remote sensing technologies for              Woody Island in the disputed            regions around Japan includ-
research observation satellites              Paracel Islands. The photos             ing the Russian-held Northern
since the mid-1980s.                         were taken from the MOS—                Territories. d By the time Tokyo
                                             Japan’s first earth observation         launched its own reconnais-
  In partnership with Japan’s                satellite.                              sance satellites in 2003, it had
National Space Development                                                           more than a decade of experi-
Agency (NASDA), STA sup-                       The newspaper published the
                                                                                     ence using overhead imagery.
ported development of the                    images in its 21 August 1993
Marine Observation Satellites                edition. The photos showed the
(MOS-1 and MOS-1b), launched                 progression of construction
in February 1987 and February                activity on the island on 14            b “Chugoku ga Seisashoto ni Wan mo

1990, respectively; the Japan                November 1987, 14 June 1989,            Kensetsu, Nansashoto de no Sakusen Yoi
                                             and 17 April 1991. The first            ni, Yomiuri Shimbunsha ga Eisei Shashin
Earth Resources Satellite                                                            wo Nyushu” [China Constructs Port on
(JERS-1), launched in Febru-                 photo showed no activity; the
                                                                                     Paracel Islands, Allows For Easy Opera-
ary 1992; and the Advanced                   second showed evidence of a             tions in Spratly Islands; Yomiuri Receives
Earth Observation Satellite                  port facility and airstrip con-         Satellite Photos), Yomiuri Shimbun, 21
                                             struction begun sometime in             August 1993: 4.
(ADEOS). a STA was also in the                                                       c Taoka, Shunji “Japan’s Turning Point

preliminary stages of develop-               1988. The final image showed
                                                                                     Toward Spy Satellites and Information
ing the Advanced Land Obser-                 that dredging operations had            Independence; Decision Made To Launch
vation Satellite (ALOS), which               been completed and a port facil-        Satellites in Four Years,” Aera, 11 Janu-
                                             ity large enough to support a           ary 1999: 46–50.
would have a resolution of sev-                                                      d “Jieitai no Eisei Riyo, Honkakuka; Sup-
                                             4,000-ton frigate or submarine
                                                                                     abado-B Tosai no Chukeiki 7gatsu Kado”
                                             was functioning, according to           [SDF Use of Satellites Taking Shape;
a Science and Technology Agency, “Roles      the unnamed “military official”         Transponder on Superbird-B Operational
and Activities 1994,” 21 February 1995, 1–   quoted by Yomiuri. b                    from July], Asahi Shimbun, 31 May 1992:
38.                                                                                  3.

10                                                          Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)
                                                                              Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

                                            Tokyo began to actively explore the possibility of creating a re-
  Tokyo began to actively                   connaissance satellite program dedicated to government use
explore the possibility of creat-           in 1991.
ing a reconnaissance satellite
program dedicated to govern-
ment use in 1991, as the US                 affairs journalist Tsuyoshi                the Mainichi Shimbun in
Operation Desert Storm in Iraq              Sunohara. b                                August 1994, as Tokyo neared
drew to a successful conclusion                                                        completion of its first post–Cold
and as the political situation in             Following North Korea’s test             War National Defense Program
Eastern Europe, the Soviet                  launch of Nodong missiles into             Outline revision. c
Union, and on the Korean pen-               the Sea of Japan in May 1993,
insula proved increasingly                  the DA’s Defense Policy Bureau               The same week the “Outline”
uncertain. On 6 March 1991,                 also began studying the possi-             was leaked, the government
during interpolations at the                bility of introducing reconnais-           released a rather forward-look-
House of Representatives’ For-              sance satellites. The bureau at            ing report prepared by a nine-
eign Affairs Committee, For-                the end of January 1994 final-             member Defense Policy Council
eign Minister Taro Nakayama,                ized a then-classified report,             chaired by Kotaro Higuchi. The
speaking of the rigors involved             called the “Outline for Photo-             Higuchi report, prepared at the
in conducting diplomacy and                 Reconnaissance Satellites.” The            same time as Tokyo was con-
gaining timely information                  study examined the possibility             ducting a review of its National
from counterparts abroad,                   of building indigenous satel-              Defense Program Outline, sug-
expressed support for introduc-             lites with the help of four major          gested that Japan should
ing reconnaissance satellites.              Japanese defense contractors—              develop reconnaissance satel-
“If we don’t receive intelligence           Mitsubishi Heavy Industries                lites, strengthen its C4I capa-
from America we won’t know                  (MHI), Mitsubishi Electric                 bilities, build a missile defense
anything,” he said, and there-              (MELCO), NEC, and Toshiba.                 system, and incorporate midair
fore “of course it would not be             MHI would provide its H2                   refueling capabilities.
strange for Japan to have its               rocket technology to launch the
                                            indigenous satellites, and the               In the summer of 1994, how-
own so-called diplomatic satel-
                                            other companies would develop              ever, the newly inaugurated
lite [gaiko eisei].”
                                            and build the satellites and               Tomiichi Murayama adminis-
  Pointing to the increasingly              components.                                tration—the country’s first
precarious political situation                                                         Japan Socialist Party (JSP)-led
around Japan, he said the                     Remote-sensing technology                administration in over a gener-
important “thing to think about             developed by STA could also be             ation—was not in a position to
is watching the military situa-             used on the satellites, accord-            support such wide-ranging pro-
tion and military maneuvers in              ing to the outline. The bureau             posals. Many members of the
the entire Asian region using               noted, however, that a constel-            JSP continued to refuse even to
reconnaissance satellites [tei-             lation of five to seven satellites         recognize the constitutionality
satsu eisei].” a With this politi-          would cost up to ¥1 trillion, not          of the Self-Defense Forces
cal mindset gaining ground                  a small sum for a country mired            (SDF), and the 72-year-old
within the LDP, CIRO began a                in recession. The fact that this           Murayama had great difficulty
“top secret” study of reconnais-            study took place was leaked to
sance satellites as early as                                                           c “Teisatsu Eisei, Hoyu Fukume Kento;
1991, according to the security             bSunohara, Tsuyoshi, Tanjo Kokusan         ‘Kaihatsuhi Ha Icchoencho’—Boeicho Ga
                                            Supai Eisei: Dokuji Johomo to Nichibei     Himitsu Kenkyu Ripoto” [JDA Secretly
                                            Domei [The Birth of an Indigenous Spy      Studied Reconnaissance Satellites Includ-
a Kokkai Kaigiroku, “Shugiin: Gaimu Iin-    Satellite: Independent Intelligence Net-   ing Possession; ‘Development to Cost Over
kai,” No. 5, 6 March 1991, http://kok-      work and the Japan-US Alliance] (Nihon     1 Trillion Yen’], Mainichi Shimbun, 15                             Keizai Shimbunsha, 2005), 7–8.             August 1994: 1.

Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)                                                            11
Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

The DIH’s imagery division will start [in 1997] as a section to
buy commercial imagery and conduct imagery data process-                       established in early 1997, it
ing.                                                                           was increasingly clear that
                                                                               Tokyo envisioned some sort of
                                                                               reconnaissance satellite pro-
in convincing his party to         which they said was very near               gram in the medium-term. As
change its platform in this        US capabilities. a Potential sat-           the politically well-connected
regard as he attempted to gain     ellite capabilities aside, NEC’s            daily Sankei Shimbun noted
greater credibility in foreign     participation at the meeting                ahead of the DIH inauguration
affairs. The Murayama admin-       suggested that discussion                   on 4 January 1997, “The DIH’s
istration was in no position       within the LDP had moved                    imagery division will start as a
politically or ideologically to    beyond whether to build recon-              section to buy commercial imag-
support the development of         naissance satellites to how they            ery and conduct imagery data
reconnaissance satellites, and     could be built.                             processing. The DA, with a plan
thus a possible program would                                                  to possess its own satellites in
not be discussed openly for          Following these initial discus-           the future, will accumulate ana-
another 18 months, following       sions, MOFA requested funds to              lytical know-how” in this divi-
the inauguration of an LDP-led     study the reconnaissance satel-             sion. c With Japan’s
government.                        lite issue in the Japanese                  technological base and a basic
                                   FY1997 and FY1998 budgets,                  analytical structure in place, all
  Shortly after the LDP            although the requested                      that was needed was a political
regained power in January          amounts—a mere ¥5.24 million                decision to move forward with a
1996, with Ryutaro Hashimoto       in FY1998, for example—were                 reconnaissance satellite pro-
becoming prime minister, the       miniscule. b Moreover, MOFA                 gram. This in turn required
party’s Research Commission        stressed that the money was to              solid public backing, which at
on Foreign Affairs and the         be spent reviewing the idea                 the time was ambivalent, given
Research Commission on Secu-       only and could not be used for              the country’s continued eco-
rity began to hold joint meet-     research or development. Part               nomic malaise.
ings on the possibility of         of the reason MOFA could not
introducing indigenously built     budget more money was politi-                 The LDP Commissions on For-
reconnaissance satellites. Their   cal: the LDP was still in a coali-          eign Affairs and Security met
first meeting on the subject, on   tion government with the JSP                jointly again in the summer of
15 May 1996, was attended by       and was constrained in provid-              1998. On 15 August—two
officials from the Ministry of     ing funding for even small gov-             weeks before North Korea
Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the        ernment studies of a potential              tested its Taepo Dong missile—
DA, and representatives of         reconnaissance satellite pro-               NEC representatives again sub-
Japan’s electronics giant NEC.     gram. The LDP remained hope-                mitted a study on a reconnais-
                                   ful, however, and continued to              sance satellite program,
  The NEC representatives          review plans internally in 1997             asserting that the company
stated that a reconnaissance       and 1998.                                   could build two reconnaissance
satellite, a second satellite to                                               satellites and one data-relay
serve as a spare, a data-trans-     Indeed, as the Defense Intelli-            satellite with “initial funding of
mission satellite, and construc-   gence Headquarters (DIH) was
tion of a ground station would
cost roughly ¥210 billion and
                                   a Haruyuki Aikawa, “LDP Researches          c “Joho Honbu Kongetsu-matsu ni Has-
could be operational by 2003.
                                   Domestic Spy Satellite Development,”        soku, Eisei Gazo no Busho mo” [Defense
The representatives claimed        Mainichi Shimbun, 16 May 1996.              Intelligence HQ To Commence Operations
their reconnaissance satellites    b “US Opposes Japan’s Plan for Spy Satel-   at the End of This Month, Will Have Sat-
would have 30-cm resolution,       lites,” Kyodo News Agency, 7 January        ellite Imagery Posts As Well], Sankei
                                   1998.                                       Shimbun, 4 January 1997: 3.

12                                                    Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)
                                                                             Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

                                            The [Taepo Dong] launch [in 1998] thus gave the LDP justifica-
approximately ¥210 billion.” a              tion to proceed openly with a reconnaissance satellite pro-
But by this point, two years                gram.
after the LDP had begun
actively entertaining proposals
for a reconnaissance satellite                Six days later, North Korea               Political discussions and fur-
program, NEC’s rival, MELCO,                launched its intermediate-                ther review of reconnaissance
had prepared a proposal of its              range Taepo Dong missile over             satellite proposals then pro-
own.                                        Japan. While Pyongyang                    ceeded rapidly. The LDP estab-
                                            claimed to have launched a sat-           lished a “project team to study
  On 25 August, MELCO Presi-                ellite into orbit, Japanese lead-         the feasibility of introducing an
dent Ichiro Taniguchi pre-                  ers were extremely concerned,             intelligence satellite.” The team
sented his company’s ideas on               as the launch unequivocally               held its first meeting on 10 Sep-
building reconnaissance satel-              demonstrated that the entire              tember, the very day of Obu-
lites at the LDP’s “Science,                Japanese archipelago was                  chi’s speech. Unfortunately for
Technology, and Information                 within range of North Korean              NEC, however, executives at
Roundtable Discussion.” b He                missiles. The launch thus gave            the company had just been
told the 18 representatives that            the LDP justification to pro-             implicated in a scandal of over-
not only would his company’s                ceed openly with a reconnais-             charging the DA and NASDA
satellites provide for greater              sance satellite program.                  for contracts. Also that day,
national security, they could                                                         senior executives at several
also be used to ascertain dam-                At a specially convened LDP             companies, including NEC,
age after large-scale natural               meeting of local representa-              were arrested and charged with
disasters and keep watch over               tives to discuss the missile              bilking the DA out of millions of
Japan’s long coast lines. c Fol-            launch, Prime Minister Keizo              yen in defense contracts.
lowing the 1995 Hanshin earth-              Obuchi, who had recently taken
quake and recent North Korean               over the premiership from                   Although NEC was not out of
infiltrations into South Korean             Hashimoto, declared it “outra-            the running for the satellite
waters in 1996, these were                  geous” that North Korea had               contract—it had significant
increasingly important consid-              “launched [a missile] over                technical experience as a result
erations—and saleable to the                Japan without prior notifica-             of its work on the ALOS—
public. The price, however,                 tion.” Obuchi informed the                MELCO was becoming the
remained about the same at                  audience that his administra-             early, untainted favorite among
just over ¥210 billion.                     tion had “instructed ministries           LDP officials eager to establish
                                            and agencies concerned to                 a reconnaissance satellite pro-
                                            study what [kind of satellite]            gram quickly. By November,
                                            we would be able to launch and            when the LDP officially
a Yoshihiko Ninagawa, “STA, NASDA           what functions it would be able           announced the commencement
Study Improved Satellite Monitoring Res-    to perform.” d A reconnaissance           of the program, 11 NEC execu-
olution,” Sankei Shimbun, 20 September      satellite, it was widely argued,          tives had been arrested in con-
1998: 1.
b Shunji Taoka, “Japan’s Turning Point
                                            should at a minimum provide               nection with the scandal, and
Toward Spy Satellites and Information       Tokyo with notification of prep-          its chances for winning the sat-
Independence; Decision Made To Launch       arations for future launches              ellite contract were ruined. e
Satellites in Four Years,” Aera, 11 Janu-   from North Korea.
ary 1999: 46–50.                                                                       Officials from MELCO sub-
c Tsuyoshi Sunohara, Tanjo Kokusan
                                                                                      mitted their detailed proposal,
Supai Eisei: Dokuji Johomo to Nichibei
Domei, [The Birth of an Indigenous Spy
Satellite: Independent Intelligence Net-    d “Obuchi Supports Launching ‘Multipur-
work and the Japan-US Alliance] (Nihon      pose’ Satellite,” Kyodo News Agency, 10   e “NEC Executive Indicted in Procure-

Keizai Shimbunsha, 2005), 88.               September 1998.                           ment Scandal,” Kyodo, 28 October 1998.

Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)                                                          13
Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

Within six months of the Taepo Dong launch, Japan was offi-
cially on the road to building its own reconnaissance satellites.                       observation satellite to date. It
                                                                                        was to have three main sen-
                                                                                        sors: the Panchromatic Remote
titled “Study Concerning Multi-             apparent fishing vessels from               Sensing Instrument for Stereo
purpose Information-Gathering               North Korea lingering suspi-                Mapping (PRISM), with 2.5-m
Satellite System,” to the LDP a             ciously off the coast of the Noto           resolution, the Advanced Visi-
month later, on 14 October                  Peninsula. The Japan Coast                  ble and Near Infrared Radiome-
1998. a With NEC out of the                 Guard and units from the Mari-              ter type-2 (AVNIR-2), and the
running, MELCO was the only                 time Self Defense Force                     all-weather Phased Array type
real choice left to LDP officials,          attempted to halt and board the             L-band Synthetic Aperture
and the LDP approved                        vessels, but they fled Japan’s              Radar (PALSAR) with a 10-m
MELCO’s plan in November.                   exclusive economic zone and                 resolution. Importantly,
The cabinet approved construc-              were later thought to have                  MELCO had been a major con-
tion of four satellites—two opti-           returned to their base in                   tractor on the project. Once the
cal and two synthetic-aperture              Ch’ongjin.                                  reconnaissance satellite pro-
radar (SAR) satellites—on 22                                                            gram was approved, the com-
December. b By spring of 1999,                The incident also reinforced              pany began work using
the Space Activities Commis-                the Japanese perception of a                technologies developed initially
sion, in charge of setting                  growing threat from North                   for ALOS.
Japan’s space policy and—more               Korea, and Japanese media
importantly—budgets, formally               began to cite yet another rea-                The LDP, as Japan’s ruling
approved the program and put                son to launch reconnaissance                party, had announced its inten-
money into the FY2000 budget                satellites. The conservative                tion to use ALOS technologies
to start construction. c Within             newspaper Sankei Shimbun                    for reconnaissance satellites in
six months of the Taepo Dong                observed in an article on intelli-          its “Proposals on the Introduc-
launch, Japan was officially on             gence satellites, following the             tion of Intelligence Satellites”
the road to building its own                Taepo Dong launch, “There                   in early November 1998. e A
reconnaissance satellites, at an            emerged a heightened need for               month later, after the govern-
initially projected cost of more            using the reconnaissance satel-             ment formally approved the
than ¥200 billion.                          lites” to watch for “spy ships”             program, the former chief of
                                            originating from North Korean               development for the ALOS
  During the final stage of the             ports. d                                    project was named the first
approval process, in March                                                              director and acting program
1999, Japan had another secu-                                                           manager of the “Preparatory
rity challenge that served to               ALOS, “Parent” of
                                                                                        Office for Intelligence-Gather-
underscore the need for                     Reconnaissance Satellites
                                                                                        ing Satellites” at NASDA. f
improved intelligence collection             For technology and expertise,
capabilities. US reconnaissance             Tokyo immediately turned to                   On 1 April 1999, the first day
satellites and Japanese SIG-                the domestic satellite then                 of the new fiscal year, Chief
INT facilities had identified               under development, ALOS.                    Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Non-
                                            With development beginning in               aka announced the decision to
                                            the early 1990s, ALOS was to
                                            be Japan’s most advanced
a Taoka.                                                                                e “LDP Proposal on Intelligence Satel-

b “Cabinet Approves Plan To Launch Spy                                                  lites,” LDP Web site.
Satellites,” Kyodo News Agency, 22                                                      f “NASDA, Joho Shushu Eisei de Junbish-

December 1998.                              d“Cabinet Information Research Office To    itsu wo Kaisetsu” [NASDA Establishes
c “Space Activities Commission Decides on   Launch Reconnaissance Satellites in         Preparatory Office for Intelligence-Gath-
FY2000 Space Budget Plans,” Nikkan          FY03,” Sankei Shimbun, 26 January           ering Satellite], Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun,
Kogyo Shimbun, 5 August 1999: 6.            2002.                                       15 December 1998: 5.

14                                                             Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)
                                                                             Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

                                            Tokyo originally scheduled the launch of all four satellites for
proceed with development of                 mid- to late-2002 but, citing a delay in parts procurement, it post-
the satellites using indigenous             poned the launch until early 2003 for the first pair of satellites.
technologies. That same day,
NASDA upgraded the “Prepara-
tory Office” to a “Research                 gies would be improved to pro-             a 1-m resolution and another
Office,” and transferred 13 per-            vide greater resolution, with              with a SAR that reportedly had
sonnel from the ALOS project                Sankei Shimbun reporting that              a resolution of 1–3 m. Most
to the reconnaissance satellite             the number of CCDs to be used              reports noted that 3 m was
program as NASDA “will apply                in ALOS’s PRISM sensor might               probably the best resolution
ALOS technology” during con-                be doubled, thereby making it              possible, as the SAR satellite
struction, according to the                 possible to improve the resolu-            operated in the L-band with a
industry newspaper Nikkan                   tion to 1.2 m. c Regardless,               frequency between 0.4 giga-
Kogyo Shimbun. a Inevitably, as             excitement grew within the                 hertz and 1.5 gigahertz,
Tokyo’s attention turned to                 defense community as the pro-              accounting for the 3-m resolu-
reconnaissance satellites, ALOS             gram took shape.                           tion. e Sunohara quoted a Japa-
construction was delayed by a                                                          nese imagery specialist who
number of years.                                                                       asserted that a 1-m resolution
                                            Launch                                     would be quite difficult with the
  Nongovernment defense ana-                  Tokyo originally scheduled the           L-band radar and that a 3-m
lysts began to speculate about              launch of all four satellites for          resolution was more likely.
the capabilities of future recon-           mid- to late-2002 but, citing a
naissance satellites built from             delay in parts procurement, it               For better resolution, the sat-
ALOS technologies. Keiichi                  postponed the launch until                 ellite would have to use a
Nogi, a well-versed military                early 2003 for the first pair of           higher frequency C-band or X-
affairs commentator writing for             satellites and late summer 2003            band radar at 8–9 gigahertz,
the defense journal Gunji Ken-              for the second pair. d On 28               which Sunohara suggested
kyu, called ALOS the “parent                March 2003, Japan success-                 might be included in third-gen-
satellite” of the reconnaissance            fully launched the first two               eration satellites after 2011. f
satellite program and noted                 indigenously produced recon-               Most analysts noted, however,
that “if the performance of the             naissance satellites on its H-2A           that while the SAR satellite
charge-coupled devices (CCDs)               rocket from the Tanegashima                produces only poorer-resolution
and optics is improved, achiev-             Space Center.                              monochrome images, it has a
ing 1-m ground resolution at                                                           distinct advantage over an opti-
the original altitude [of 700 km]            The March launch placed into              cal system because it can be
would not be impossible.” b                 orbit one satellite with an opti-          used at night and during
Other Japanese media outlets                cal system with approximately              inclement weather.
also suggested ALOS technolo-

                                            c Yoshihiko Ninagawa, “STA, NASDA

a “Seifu, Joho Shushu Eisei no Kokusan      Study Improved Satellite Monitoring Res-   e Yuta Sagara, “Peaceful Use Principle in

wo Kettei” [Government Decides On           olution,” Sankei Shimbun, 20 September     Japan’s Policy Crumbling,” Kyodo, 6
Domestic Development of Intelligence-       1998: 1.                                   March 2003.
Gathering Satellites], Nikkan Kogyo         d “Joho Shushu Eisei, Uchiage 15-nen ni    f Tsuyoshi Sunohara, Tanjo Kokusan

Shimbun, 2 April 1999: 2.                   Enki, Seifu Kettei, Buhin Chotatsu ga      Supai Eisei: Dokuji Johomo to Nichibei
b Keiichi Nogi, “Summing Up the Pluses      Okureru” [Government Decides To Post-      Domei [The Birth of an Indigenous Spy
and Minuses of Japan’s Reconnaissance       pone Launch of Intelligence-Gathering      Satellite: Independent Intelligence Net-
Satellite Development,” Gunji Kenkyu,       Satellites Until 2003, Supply of Parts     work and the Japan-US Alliance] (Nihon
December 1998: 60–74.                       Late], Sankei Shimbun, 14 June 2001: 2.    Keizai Shimbunsha, 2005), 208–209, 226.

Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)                                                            15
Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

The preponderance of the early imagery was reportedly taken
of targets in North Korea, including nuclear facilities at Yongby-                       imagery, Japanese officials
on and missile launch facilities at Musudan-ri.                                          determined that the damage
                                                                                         was not as great as Pyongyang
                                                                                         had let on, and they judged the
  The first satellites orbited the           satellites were also said to have           damaged area to have a maxi-
earth in a solar synchronous                 photographed WMD facilities in              mum radius of 1 km. Once Jap-
quasirevolution orbit at 400–                Russia, China, and the Middle               anese policy makers—including
600 km in altitude 15–20 times               East. c In one reportedly success-          Prime Minister Koizumi—
a day. (Sunohara, citing “multi-             ful use of the satellites, Tokyo            viewed the photos and indepen-
ple” sources, placed the orbit at            captured imagery of a rail line             dent damage assessments,
470 km. a) It was popularly                  150 km north of Pyongyang,                  Tokyo concluded the North
claimed that the two satellites              where a massive explosion took              exaggerated the damage in a
were able to take an image of                place on 22 April 2004 shortly              bid to gain more international
any place on earth at least once             after a train carrying Kim                  aid. e
a day, a central goal of the pro-            Chong-il home from China had
gram. With the March 2003                    passed by. Pyongyang initially                The August launch was post-
launch behind them, the Japa-                explained that the accident was             poned until 29 November 2003.
nese scheduled the launch of                 caused by contact of electrical             The launch was ill-fated, how-
the second pair—like the first,              wires with ammonium nitrate                 ever, as the satellites were
one equipped with an optical                 fertilizer loaded on a train at             unable to reach orbit when a
sensor and the other with                    the station, but Japan’s                    procedure to jettison one of the
SAR—for August. In addition,                 monthly Gendai interviewed an               rocket’s fuel tanks failed. The
the government revealed it                   unnamed North Korean official               tank remained partially
planned to launch two “reserve               who claimed that the blast had              attached to the rocket. NASDA
satellites” in 2006 and two sec-             been an attempt to assassinate              destroyed the rocket in flight to
ond-generation satellites by                 Kim: “The blast at Ryongchon                keep it and its cargo from
early 2009. The second-genera-               was simply not an accident—it               crashing uncontrollably to the
tion optical satellites were to              was a terrorist assassination               earth’s surface. f The failure, the
have a 0.5 m resolution. b                   attempt on the Dear Leader,”                first of the H-2A rocket after
                                             the official asserted. d                    five successful launches, also
  The satellites launched in                                                             set back Japan’s growing space-
March began transmitting                       Whatever the case, KCNA, the              launch program.Before the fail-
imagery in late May. The pre-                state-run television station in             ure the Japan Aerospace Explo-
ponderance of the early imag-                North Korea, reported that the              ration Agency was scheduled to
ery was reportedly taken of                  explosion damaged buildings as              launch up to 17 satellites by
targets in North Korea, includ-              far as 2 km from the epicenter,             2007 on the H-2A and M-5
ing nuclear facilities at Yong-              and caused extensive damage                 space launch vehicles. All of
byon and missile launch                      especially in a 1.5-km radius of            these launches would be signifi-
facilities at Musudan-ri. The                the blast. After viewing the                cantly delayed, however.

                                                                                          The mishap greatly disap-
a  Tsuyoshi Sunohara, Tanjo Kokusan          c “Japan's ‘Spy’ Satellites Start ‘Full-    pointed DA and other govern-
Supai Eisei: Dokuji Johomo to Nichibei       Fledged’ Photo Surveillance Over DPRK,”
Domei [The Birth of an Indigenous Spy        Asahi Shimbun, 6 September 2003.
Satellite: Independent Intelligence Net-     d “Koizumi’s Grave and Kim Chong-il’s

work and the Japan-US Alliance] (Nihon       Betrayal; Interview With North Korea’s      e “Protecting Japan Part III: Eyes in the

Keizai Shimbunsha, 2005), 179.               Diplomatic Source in Beijing; Pressure      Sky Vital for Security,” Yomiuri Shimbun,
b “Japan To Launch Two ‘Spy’ Satellites in   From Hu Jintao, which materialized in       8 June 2004.
March, Start Full-Fledged Operations in      Japan-North Korea Summit,” Gendai,          f “Rocket Failure a Double Setback,” Asahi

July,” Yomiuri Shimbun, 6 January 2003.      July 2004: 28–36.                           Shimbun, 1 December 2003.

16                                                              Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)
                                                                               Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

                                            As the satellites were being constructed, Japan built data re-
ment officials, who had planned             ception stations.
to have four reconnaissance sat-
ellites available for robust cov-
erage of potential trouble spots            naissance satellite program. As             ter in Ichigaya, Tokyo. c The con-
in Asia and elsewhere. But                  noted above, much of the tech-              struction of the facilities was
Japan still had two satellites in           nology used in the ALOS was                 completed in December 2001,
orbit, and it continued with                applied to the reconnaissance               more than a year ahead of the
plans to build and launch next-             satellites, and NEC’s original              launch of the first pair of satel-
generation satellites as well.              ¥210-billion proposal included a            lites. d Another satellite recep-
                                            data-relay satellite. MELCO                 tion station is located on the
  As it was working on its rock-            most likely included a provi-               western side of Australia near
ets and sensors, the Japanese               sion for one in its proposal,               Perth.
government was also develop-                which had a similar price tag.
ing a basic data relay capabil-             With such a capability, Japa-                 Imagery analysis is con-
ity. Had the technology been                nese analysts would have the                ducted in the Cabinet Satellite
included in the satellite pro-              ability to provide policy makers            Intelligence Center (CSIC) of
gram as earlier proposals had               with analysis of near real-time             Cabinet Intelligence and
suggested, the first-generation             imagery of areas as far as Cen-             Research Office (CIRO). Given
of reconnaissance satellites                tral Asia, the Indian subconti-             CSIC’s designation as a special
might have data-relay capabili-             nent, and perhaps the Middle                “center,” its director presum-
ties provided by geostationary              East.                                       ably has a rank about equal to
satellites positioned as high as                                                        the CIRO deputy director. The
22,000 miles or more. As it was,                                                        center’s first director was a
on 20 February 2003, as prepa-              Ground Facilities                           retired general, Masahiro Kun-
rations were under way to send                As the satellites were being              imi, who had previously served
up the first satellites in March,           constructed, Japan built data               as the first head of the Defense
the Japanese successfully                   reception stations in the north             Agency’s DIH in 1997. He was
tested the “Kodama” Data                    in Tomakomai in Hokkaido and                called out of retirement to head
Relay Test Satellite (DRTS) to              in the south at Akune,                      CSIC because of his experience
relay images of the Indian sub-             Kagoshima Prefecture. Each                  in intelligence matters.
continent and Sri Lanka taken               site has one receiving
by the Advanced Earth Obser-                                                              When CSIC began operations
                                            antenna—covered by a giant
vation Satellite (ADEOS-II) to                                                          in the summer of 2001, it had
                                            greenish-bluish dome— and a
the Tsukuba Space Center and                                                            approximately 20 SDF person-
                                            two-story building adjacent to
the Earth Observation Center                                                            nel and 180 personnel from
                                            it, as reported by local papers
in Japan. a                                                                             other ministries and agencies.
                                            that provided pictures of the
                                                                                        Kunimi told Sankei Shimbun
                                            facilities. b The main substa-
  It is likely that by now the                                                          that approximately 300 people
                                            tion, which has two receiving
Japanese do have a relay capa-                                                          would eventually work for
                                            antennas and a two-story build-
bility for their reconnaissance                                                         CSIC. e An additional 80 would
                                            ing, is located north of Tokyo in
satellites, possibly using the                                                          be needed to operate the four
                                            Kitaura, Ibaraki Prefecture,
DRTS, although there has been                                                           receiving centers, bringing the
                                            and serves as a backup to the
no mention in Japanese media                main control and analysis cen-
of the existence of such a capa-
                                                                                        c “Joho Shushu Eisei Uchiage Junbi
bility associated with the recon-
                                                                                        Tchakutchaku: 15nen Natsu ni Mazu 2ki”
                                            b A photo of the northern site can be       [Preparation for Intelligence Satellite
                                            viewed on the 27 November 2001 edition      Launch Proceeds Apace: First 2 Devices
a “Eiseikan Tsushin Jikken ni Seiko”        of Tomamin, a local news service provider   Set for Summer 2003], Asagumo, 2 August
[Inter-Satellite Communications Experi-     in Hokkaido, available at                   2001: 1; and Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 29
ment Successful], Air World, May 2003:     July 2002.
124.                                        htm.                                        d Yomiuri Shimbun, 31 December 2001.

Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)                                                           17
Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

The expanded Directorate for Geospatial Intelligence would
perform “three-dimensional map intelligence” in addition to im-                             total number of imagery ana-
agery analysis.                                                                             lysts there to 160. The number
                                                                                            of personnel devoted to imag-
                                                                                            ery analysis—civilian and uni-
total number to 380 personnel,               cent to the back gate of the                   formed—rose to 321 by mid-
but Nihon Keizai Shimbun                     Defense Ministry headquarters                  2004. g
questioned whether this would                identifies the incongruously
be enough for 24-hour opera-                 deep-silver building rising                      The expanded Directorate for
tions. a Hiroyuki Kishino, a                 above the walls of the com-                    Geospatial Intelligence would
career Ministry of Foreign                   pound as the Cabinet Satellite                 perform “three-dimensional
Affairs official, was promoted to            Intelligence Center. The                       map intelligence” in addition to
deputy director from his posi-               defense daily Asagumo reported                 imagery analysis, in the words
tion as the first chief of the               that the facility was specially                of defense analyst Buntaro
Imagery Analysis Department                  shielded to protect it from                    Kuroi. h The significance of this
on 5 August 2003 as the satel-               eavesdropping on electromag-                   step should not be overlooked,
lites were becoming opera-                   netic signals emanating from                   as three-dimensional imagery
tional. b (In an indication of               the building. e                                would be a necessary require-
CSIC’s high-profile, following                                                              ment for developing detailed
his two years’ service there                   The DIH Imagery Directorate                  maps of terrain features, a pre-
Kishino was given the choice                 was created in 1997 by the                     requisite for terrain-contour
position of minister to Britain              merger of the “Central Geogra-                 mapping technology in guid-
in 2004, and he was promoted                 phy Unit” of the GSDF with the                 ance systems for cruise mis-
to Envoy Extraordinary and                   satellite imagery analysis divi-               siles and other precision-guided
Minister Plenipotentiary to                  sions of the other SDF                         weapons.
Britain in early 2005. c)                    branches. When it was first
                                             established, analysts worked                     To support IMINT operations,
  CSIC’s five-story “core cen-               mainly with imagery pur-                       the DA in March 2001 inaugu-
ter,” which manages and oper-                chased from US companies, but                  rated the Imagery Intelligence
ates the satellites, was                     by 1997 it was “rumored” that                  Support System (called the gazo
constructed on the north side of             Japan would “eventually                        joho shien shisutemu). i Accord-
the Defense Ministry headquar-               receive its own reconnaissance                 ing to the Defense Research
ters d in Ichigaya, Tokyo, where             satellites,” according to Sen-                 Center’s Isao Ishizuka, this sys-
the DIH is also located. Indeed,             taku. f The Imagery Directorate                tem provides reconnaissance
a Japanese-language sign adja-               was expanded to a “Directorate                 photographs from IKONOS sat-
                                             for Geospatial Intelligence,”                  ellites (owned by Space Image)
                                             with 40 additional imagery ana-                with resolution as sharp as 82
                                             lysts in April 2003, bringing the              cm to imagery analysts. j Con-
e Interview with Masahiro Kunimi, “Joho

Shushu Eisei, Uchiage 15-nen ni Enki,
                                                                                            struction began on the system
Seifu Kettei, Buhin Chotatsu ga Okureru”                                                    in 1997 with a projected cost of
[Government Decides To Postpone Launch       e “Joho Shushu Eisei Uchiage Junbi             ¥16.1 billion.
of Intelligence-Gathering Satellites Until   Tchakutchaku: 15nen Natsu ni Mazu 2ki”
2003, Supply of Parts Late], Sankei Shim-    [Preparation for Intelligence Satellite
bun, 14 June 14, 2001: 2.                    Launch Proceeds Apace: First 2 Devices
a “Government To Launch Monitoring Sat-      Set for Summer 2003], Asagumo, 2 August        g “Larger Staff Set for Analyzing Informa-
ellites in 2003 To Bolster Crisis Manage-    2001: 1; Some Japanese internet mapping        tion Satellite Data,” Yomiuri Shimbun, 16
ment,” Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 29 July         services available on the Internet help-       July 1999.
2002.                                        fully label the building too:     h Buntaro Kuroi, “Special Project: What

b “Naikaku (Jinji)” [PMOR [Personnel]],      labels the building directly to the north of   Are Japan’s Foreign Intelligence Capabili-
Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 5 August 2003: 4.      Defense Ministry Headquarters as               ties Now? (Part 2),” Gunji Kenkyu,
c “Japan Names Omori as Ambassador To        “Naikakufu Joho Senta”[Cabinet Satellite       November 2005: 232–41.
Oman,” Jiji, 28 January 2005.                Center].                                       i

d The Defense Agency was upgraded to a       f “Defense Agency Intelligence Headquar-       /hakusho_data/2003/2003/html/15311300.
ministry in 2007.                            ters,” Sentaku, May 1997: 126–29.              html

18                                                               Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)
                                                                                 Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

                                              Once the first-generation satellites were completed, Japan be-
  Once operational, the system                gan development of next-generation reconnaissance satellites.
helped to supply satellite imag-
ery acquired by Quickbird
IKONOS commercial satellites,                   While still considered first-            technology capable of a 50-cm
and it reportedly connects CSIC               generation satellites, these               resolution. These second-gener-
and the Directorate for Geospa-               back-up satellites apparently              ation satellites were scheduled
tial Intelligence at DIH via                  included improvements over                 to be ready for launch by early
high-capacity data cable. a                   the two already in orbit. The              2009. e
Japan also orders imagery from                CCDs employed on the back-up
the commercial imaging satel-                 optical satellite had been sched-            Second- and later-generation
lites Radarsat, Landsat, and                  uled to be upgraded by 2005                satellites to be launched after
Spot. b If the system can be used             from 8-bit to 11-bit radiometric           2009 were to have improved,
with commercial satellite imag-               resolution, according to Suno-             shorter solar panels to allow for
ery, one can reasonably sup-                  hara, increasing the grey val-             greater maneuverability. The
pose that it can be used with                 ues (and therefore the image               satellites would also be
imagery obtained from Japan’s                 quality) in the black-and-white            equipped with improved reac-
reconnaissance satellites as                  images from 256 to 2048. The               tion wheels to allow slewing
well.                                         optical satellite would be capa-           along all three axes. The reac-
                                              ble of taking 1-m black-and-               tion wheels, essentially
                                              white images and 5-m color                 weighted spheres that cause
Follow-on and Future                          images, and have more power-               the satellite to turn when they
Intelligence Satellites                       ful “pointing” or slewing capa-            spin in a particular direction,
                                              bilities. The SAR satellite was            are part of the attitude control
  Japan successfully launched a
                                              also reported to have a 1- to 3-           system that adjusts the satel-
third satellite on 10 September
                                              m resolution, although because             lite’s position for precision tar-
2006 and a fourth one five
                                              it was to continue to employ L-            geting. While the first-
months later. According to one
                                              band radar, its resolution is              generation satellites are
industry newspaper in late July
                                              likely limited to be around 3 m            equipped with reaction wheels
2000, construction of these
                                              as noted previously. d                     limited to slewing on one axis,
additional satellites had been
                                                                                         the next-generation satellites
planned as a “contingency” for a
                                                Once the first-generation sat-           were designed to be able to slew
launch failure during either of
                                              ellites were completed, Japan              along all three axes, thereby
the first launches in 2003—a
                                              began development of next-gen-             expanding the number of poten-
plan that proved prescient. c
                                              eration reconnaissance satel-              tial surface targets within
                                              lites. Plans to build these                range at any given moment in
                                              satellites were officially                 orbit. The satellites were also to
                                              approved on 13 June 2001,                  be lighter than the 2-ton first-
j Isao Ishizuka, “Joho Shushu Eisei Seiko
no Joken” [Requirements for Successful        when the “Intelligence-Gather-             generation satellites, with an
Information-Collection Satellites], in DRC    ing Satellite Promotion Com-               expected weight of around 1.2
Nenpo 1999, available at www.drc-             mittee” headed by Chief                    tons. f                   Cabinet Secretary Yasuo
a Kuroi, 232–41.

b See comprehensive list of satellites used   Fukuda approved the indige-                  One question for speculation
by Japanese ministries and agencies on        nous development of optical                is whether Japan will ulti-
Cabinet Web site,
kai/cosmo/haihu03/siryou3-5.pdf.                                                         e “Seifu, Jisedai Joho Eisei, Noryoku wo

c “Seifu, Rainendo Kara Joho Shushu           dTsuyoshi Sunohara, Tanjo Kokusan          Ohava Kojo” [Government To Improve
Eisei no Kokeiki Keikaku ni Chakushu”         Supai Eisei: Dokuji Johomo to Nichibei     Capability of Next-Generation Intelli-
[Government Begins Planning Successor         Domei [The Birth of an Indigenous Spy      gence-Gathering Satellite], Nihon Keizai
Intelligence-Gathering Satellites From        Satellite: Independent Intelligence Net-   Shimbun, 13 June 2000 (evening edition):
Next Fiscal Year], Nikkan Kogyo Shim-         work and the Japan-US Alliance], Nihon     3.
bun, 28 July 2000”: 2.                        Keizai Shimbunsha, 2005, 225.              f Sunohara, 226–27.

Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)                                                             19
Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

Until recently, one significant impediment to further develop-
ment of space-based systems was the so-called Peaceful Use                              The SDF could use satellites as
of Space policy.                                                                        long as the satellites also
                                                                                        served a general commercial or
                                                                                        scientific purpose as well.
mately build other types of sat-            Shintaro Ishihara on crisis
ellites, such as SIGINT,                    management.                                   The “peaceful use” policy was
MASINT, or launch-detection                                                             less of an issue when the recon-
satellites. One vocal proponent               Until recently, one significant           naissance satellite program was
of additional satellite capabili-           impediment to further develop-              established in the late 1990s
ties is Toshiyuki Shikata, a                ment of space-based systems                 because of overwhelming pub-
retired GSDF lieutenant gen-                was the so-called Peaceful Use              lic concern following the Taepo
eral who speaks and writes pro-             of Space policy. This policy                Dong missile launch and other
lifically on a wide range of                referred to a resolution passed             aggressive actions by Pyongy-
security-related matters and                by the Diet in May 1969 clarify-            ang. The DA merely continued
who has consistently called for             ing Japan’s space policy. It                to argue that the reconnais-
the development of a wide vari-             stated that “Japan…will pro-                sance satellites’ functions are
ety of satellites. He told the              ceed with space development as              “recognized as generalized,” and
Yomiuri Shimbun in 2006, for                long as it is for peaceful objec-           therefore intelligence gathered
example: “This country should               tives.” d This was generally seen           by the satellites could be used
have at least eight satellites to           as precluding the Defense                   by the SDF. g
be able to take photos” of mis-             Agency or the Self-Defense
sile bases and other sites “twice           Forces from using space-based                 To remove any lingering ques-
a day.” a He has made similar               platforms until 1983, when the              tions about the legality of the
calls in his monthly column in              DA used NTT’s “test” communi-               use of space, the ruling LDP in
Securitarian, b and he has called           cations satellite CS-2/Sakura-2             June 2006 drafted legislation
for the construction of a satel-            for communications between                  that would specifically support
lite to intercept communica-                the DA headquarters and units               Japanese use of space-based
tions and for a launch detection            on Iwo Jima. This created a                 systems for national security
satellite. c Shikata has signifi-           public stir, however, because               purposes. Kyodo reported at the
cant access to policy makers—               this was the first time the                 time that passage of the bill
he addressed the Expert Panel               Defense Agency had used a                   would “enable the development
on Space Development and Uti-               space-based system for defense-             of high-definition spy satellites
lization (an advisory panel to              related purposes. In 1985, the              and of a satellite capable of
the Prime Minister) in January              Maritime Self Defense Force                 detecting the firing of ballistic
2002, and he has served as a                used the 1983 precedent as                  missiles,” and establish a
consultant to Tokyo Governor                grounds for a request to use the            “Space Strategy Headquarters”
                                            US Navy’s communications sat-               in the Cabinet Secretariat and
                                            ellite Fleetsat. e The Cabinet              a Minister for Space Develop-
a Tetsuo Hidaka and Koichi Yasuda, “Bet-    ruled that year that such a use             ment to coordinate space devel-
ter Spy Satellite System Needed: Reliance   was “generalized” and there-                opment strategies among the
On US Intelligence On Missile Launch        fore did not violate the “peace-            various government agencies. h
Shows Need For Improvement,” Yomiuri
Shimbun, 31 July 2006.
                                            ful objectives” of the resolution. f        In addition to clearing up
b Toshiyuki Shikata, “Shinsorikantei ni                                                 potential legal issues related to
Kitai Suru Mono: Taisetsu na Joho Kozo                                                  Japan’s use of space, the bill’s
no Kakuritsu to Kunren” [Expectations for   d Quoted in Tamama, Tetsuo, “Nihon no       proposed creation of a central
the New PMOR: Ensurance and Practice        Uchu Seisaku to Anzen Hosho no Setten”
for an Important Information Structure],    [Points in Common Between Japan’s
Securitarian, April 2002: 50–51.            Space Policy and National Security], Boei
c Quoted in “Japan's First Intelligence     Gijutsu Janaru, June 2002: 23.              fTamama, 24.
Satellites Will Be Able to Capture Images   e Yuta Sagara, “FOCUS: ‘Peaceful Use        g Tamama, 25.
of ‘North Korea’ Only,” Shukan Bunshun,     Principle’ in Japan’s Policy Crumbling,”    h “Panel Drafts Outline of Bill To OK Mili-

19 December 2002: 152–55.                   Kyodo News Service, 6 March 2003.           tary Use of Space,” 2 June 2006.

20                                                             Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)
                                                                               Japan’s Reconnaissance Satellite Effort

                                            Tokyo chose to develop an early warning satellite as its next
organization and ministerial                major satellite program as North Korea’s potentially nuclear-
post to coordinate space policy             tipped intermediate-range missiles pose the clearest threat to
pointed to official intentions to
                                            the Japanese archipelago.
pursue a greater variety of
space-related projects, which
certainly included additional               platforms for national security              four—considered to be the mini-
satellites related to intelligence          purposes such as “early warn-                mum necessary for a fully oper-
collection and national defense.            ing satellites, communications               ational reconnaissance satellite
                                            satellites, data relay satellites,”          constellation.
  The bill had broad bipartisan             and SIGINT satellites in addi-
support, as all three major par-            tion to reconnaissance satel-                  Tokyo chose to develop an
ties—the governing LDP, its                 lites, according to Hashimoto.               early warning satellite as its
coalition partner the New                                                                next major satellite program as
Komeito Party, and opposition                 While the enactment of this                North Korea’s potentially
Democratic Party of Japan—                  law makes the use of space-                  nuclear-tipped intermediate-
supported the legislation in the            based platforms for national                 range missiles pose the clear-
Diet in early 2008. The bill                security purposes legal, there               est threat to the Japanese
became law—the uchu kihonho                 are multiple hurdles to their                archipelago. The satellite is
or “Space Basic Law”—in mid-                indigenous development and                   slated to be integrated into
2008, after it was passed by                operation, not least of which is             Japan’s national missile
both houses of Japan's Diet.                cost. But with this law, Tokyo               defense system, which has
                                            “will be able to examine the                 gained ever greater importance
  Of particular interest is Arti-           merits and demerits of various               after North Korea’s successive
cle 3, which states that Japan’s            national security systems” that              missile and nuclear tests in the
continued development of space              operate in space, according to               1990s and 2000s.
is necessary for its own                    Hashimoto. a
“national security” as well as                                                             Over the past three decades
the preservation of interna-                  Following a public debate on               Japan has gradually gained con-
tional community’s “peace and               the “merits” and “demerits” of               fidence in developing, launch-
security.” The new law thus                 future satellite systems in the              ing, and employing an
sanctioned the use of space-                spring of 2009, the Japanese                 increasing variety of space-
based systems specifically for              government in June approved a                based systems for national secu-
national security purposes,                 panel recommendation that                    rity purposes. The remaining
opening the door for the legal              included the launch of an addi-              legal hurdles have been elimi-
development of a wider range of             tional reconnaissance satellite              nated, and Japan is now set to
intelligence-related satellites.            and the development of sensors               develop a launch-detection satel-
                                            to be employed on a future                   lite for use in an increasingly
  Yasuaki Hashimoto, writing                early warning satellite. b The               robust national missile defense
for the Defense Ministry-affili-            previously planned launch of a               system even as it continues to
ated National Institute of                  reconnaissance satellite some-               employ more sophisticated
Defense Studies, noted that the             time in 2011 or later would                  reconnaissance satellites. While
enactment of the law indicated              bring the number of active                   the costs of other possible future
that Tokyo was moving away                  reconnaissance satellites to                 satellite programs might prove
from the use of space strictly for                                                       prohibitive, Tokyo will no doubt
“peaceful purposes equal to                                                              continue to examine a range of
                                            a Yasuaki Hashimoto, “Enactment of the
nonmilitary purposes” to a                                                               possible options as it looks to
                                            Basic Space Law: Japan’s Space Security
“nonaggression” policy of the               Policy,” Briefing Memo, National Institute
                                                                                         expand its space-based capabili-
use of space. In other words,               of Defense Studies, 27 June 2008.            ties.
Tokyo can now legally develop               b Shiro Namekata, “Space Plan to Double

the full range of space-based               Satellite Launches,” Asahi Shimbun                        ❖ ❖ ❖
                                            Online, 3 June 2009.

Studies in Intelligence Vol. 54, No. 3 (Extracts, September 2010)                                                       21

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