Japan’s increased reliance on space systems to meet its security needs – a core element of what the US today calls multi-domain operations – underscores the importance of the JASDF’s new unit. The scenario of the 2018 Schriever wargame – US Strategic Command’s tabletop space exercise involving the Five Eyes nations (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the US), France, Germany and, for the first time, Japan – reportedly depicted US space and cyber domains in the US Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility being exploited by a peer competitor. Exploration of Japan’s role, along with other US allies and partners, in such a scenario indicates Washington’s mounting interest in Japan’s growing military space-surveillance and positioning capabilities. Japan’s Space Domain Mission Unit could therefore emerge as a key actor in defending space assets in the Indo-Pacific. It may also act as a catalyst to bring yet closer cooperation between Tokyo and Washington in the space domain, as well as the wider defence realm.
Yuka Koshino is a Research Fellow conducting independent research on Japanese security and defence policy at the newly established IISS Japan Chair Programme. She also contributes to The Military Balance and provides analysis for research projects carried out by the Defence and Military Analysis Programme team. Prior to joining the IISS, she served as a research associate with the Japan Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she managed projects and provided independent analysis on US–Japan relations and US strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. She also has experience providing policy and business analysis on Asia’s high-tech and defence industries at the Avascent Group and the Asia Group in Washington DC. She previously reported and published news stories on Japanese political, economic, and business affairs at Tokyo bureaus of the Wall Street Journal, the Economist and the Japan Times. She holds a MA in Asian studies from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a BA in law from Keio University, where she completed an academic year at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also affiliated with the Asia-Pacific Initiative in Tokyo as the inaugural Matsumoto-Samata Fellow. The IISS fellowship has been made possible by support from API (Asia-Pacific Initiative), Matsumoto-san, and Samata-san.
This blog post originally appeared on the Military Balance Blog, published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), on 1 May 2020 here, and is republished by SpaceWatch.Global with the kind permission of the author and the IISS.