Written by Skygate Technologies
The 2021 Japan general election was held on October 31, 2021, effectively electing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as the ruling party of the House of Representatives, and the House voted on Wednesday, November 10 to elect Fumio Kishida as Japan's 101st Prime Minister. So what do Japan's new government and Prime Minister mean for Japan's and the Asia-Pacific's space development?
PM Kishida to maintain Japan's fundamental National Space Policy largely unchanged, vowing to lead the space development in the Asia-Pacific region
PM Kishida to accelerate country's commercial and defense space development, and expand partnerships with close allies within the scope of space & cyber security
Ambitious social and economic reforms as his centerpiece policy, or lack of tangible results from these reforms rather, may seriously hinder his other political agendas
Although PM Kishida virtually fought against his predecessor Yoshihide Suga in the last general election, he has repeatedly stated that he intents to "carry over and build on top of numerous progresses made by the previous administration", suggesting little to no change in principle to Japan's National Space Policy drafted and approved by the previous Cabinet in June 2020.
PM Kishida, however, being the country's first Minister of State of Space Policy back in 2008, is likely to accelerate nation's space development, especially for commercial and defense purposes, as he has consistently been vocal about shifting Japan's narrow focus on scientific and government-centric space explorations. As Japan vows to lead the international and Asia-Pacific communities in countering China's ever-growing pressure, PM Kishida also seeks to expand partnerships with familiar allies like the United States and increasing important regional partners like Australia and India within the scope of space and cyber security, including sharing of satellite imagery data and intelligence, under the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) doctrine.
PM Kishida's recent cabinet appointment reflects his long-time rhetoric of strengthening Japan's role in competitive space development arena. PM Kishida appointed Yoshimasa Hayashi as Japan's next Foreign Minister on November 10, 2021. FM Hayashi's extensive ministerial experiences include Minister of Defense (2008), Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy (2009), and Minister of Education (2018), but the most relevant role yet might well be his recent tenure as the Chairman of Research Commission on Intellectual Property Strategy (2021).
Then-Chairman Hayashi placed space development at the center of country's economic growth and national security policies, increasing national space budget by at least 13.6% (additional budget to be approved by the end of 2021) and leading Japan's involvement in the Artemis Program, US-led luna-returning mission, with then-Executive Secretary of the White House National Space Council, Scott Pace. FM Hayashi is likely to vitalize and expedite Japan's partnership talks with its Asia-Pacific counterparts.
As PM Kishida and his administration push forward with elevating Japan's role in international space development, here is a possible major catalyst and a push-back.
Catalyst: Japan Innovation Party (shown on the right), pro-constitution-amending and pro-reform party, almost quadrupled its number of seats in the House of Representatives in the last general election, becoming the third largest party in the House, and the party overwhelmingly supports both significant increase to space & cyber security budgets and international partnership expansion for peaceful, constructive space development
Push-back: PM Kishida won the last election calling for ambitious social and economic reforms and active redistribution of wealth. Failure to deliver tangible results in timely manner in the COVID-struck nation may quickly weaken his support bases and seriously hinder his political agendas, putting advancement of Japan's and the Asia-Pacific's space development in jeopardy.
Cover: Wiiii - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10972089
Photo 1: Wiiii - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10972089
Photo 2&3 : Prime Minister's Office (facebook.com/sourikantei/)
Photo 4 : Japan Innovation Party (facebook.com/nipponishinnokai/)