Japan's Space and Cyberspace Policy

Yukinari Hirose1
Former President of the National Institute for Defense Studies

The National Defense Program Guidelines formulated in December 2018 emphasized the importance of the new domains of space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum, in addition to the Japan Self-Defense Forces' traditional domains of activity --- land, sea, and air. The first ever reference was made on "cross-domain operations."

As Japanese society as a whole increasingly relies on space and cyberspace, these two domains are likely to have a great impact on the activity of the SDF.

This paper will provide a review of the history of and efforts associated with Japan's space and cyberspace strategy.

1. An outline of Japan's space and cyberspace strategy

(1) The National Security Strategy and the National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2014 and beyond (the 2013 NDPG)

In December 2013, the National Security Strategy (NSS)2 and the National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2014 and beyond (the NDGP 2013) were formulated. The NSS is the first document that Japan ever worked out to give an account of the basic policy on its national security. Its significance lies in that it elaborates on how to ensure Japan's national security and presents for the first time key principles of its diplomatic and defense engagement to that end. The document enumerates potential risks surrounding the global commons that could hinder free access to and use of oceans, space, and cyberspace. Moreover, the document points to ten areas where Japan should strengthen and expand its capabilities and roles, including the strengthening of cybersecurity, ensuring the stable use of space, and the promotion of the use of space for security purposes.

The National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2014 and beyond3 (the 2013 NDPG) formulated at the same time as the National Security Strategy refers to the expected increasing occurrence of gray-zone incidents and regards the stable use of space and cyberspace as a vital security issue for the international community --- with the rapid progress of technological innovation in the background.

(2) Review of the 2013 NDPG and the Mid-Term Defense Program

After the formulation of the 2013 NDPG, the security environment surrounding Japan became "more severe and uncertain at a much faster speed" than expected. The 2013 NDPG was therefore put to review, and a new NDPG was formulated in December 2018 ("The National Defense Program Guidelines for FY 2019 and beyond"4 or "the 2018 NDPG"). The new NDPG aims at building a "Multi-domain Defense Force" by presupposing "cross-domain operations" that should address activities in the new domains of space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum, in addition to the traditional domains of land, sea, and air.

The NDPG is essentially assumed to have a ten-year life span. But the 2013 NDPG was put to review after a lapse of only five years from its formulation, which testifies to the rapid change of the security environment in recent years. It is noteworthy that while the 2013 NDPG describes space and cyberspace separately, the 2018 NDPG emphasizes "the new domains of space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum."

The National Security Strategy, which was worked out at the same time as the 2013 NDPG, is also assumed to be valid for ten years. It was not reviewed this time. Some experts suggest that the NSS also should be subject to review. But Prime Minister Abe stated in the Diet, "The NSS ... represents Japan's general policy on security ... last year (2018), we reviewed its contents. This time we have decided rather to focus on strengthening defense capabilities in accordance with the NSS." (in the House of Councillors Budget Committee on March 6, 2019)

The Mid-Term Defense Program for FY2019-2023(the 2019 MTDP5), which was approved by the Cabinet at the same time as the 2018 NDPG, aims to strengthen defense capabilities in the domains of outer space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum.

Specifically, the 2019 MTDP stipulates the establishment of one squadron of ASDF Space Domain Mission Unit and one squadron of the Cyberspace Defense Unit as a joint units of the SDF, and plans to assign personnel to these new sections, thereby optimizing the SDF's organizations and operations. The major activities in the space domain include the development of Space Situational Awareness (SSA) system; the securing of redundancy by use of various artificial satellites; and countermeasures to reduce the vulnerability of Japanese satellites; meanwhile, those in the cyberspace domain includes improvement in resilience of the information and telecommunications systems / networks, and human resources development.

2. Japan's space utilization programs

(1) The government-based initiatives
(A) History of Japan's space development

The history of Japan's space development can be traced back to the launch of the Pencil Rocket in 1955 and to Japan's first artificial satellite "Osumi" in 1975. The Ministry of Education and the Science and Technology Agency (the later Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) was responsible for space administration. The Basic Space Law was enacted in 2008 to promote comprehensive and systematic policy measures for space development and utilization. The Space Development Strategy Headquarters came into existence in accordance with the law. While the Basic Space Law stipulates that the exploitation and utilization of space should be undertaken in conformity with the pacifism of the Japanese Constitution, at the same time, it stipulates that these activities should contribute to Japan's security. In 2012, the Space Strategy Office was set up in the Cabinet Office to plan, draft, and coordinate government policies on space development and utilization. In the same year, the JAXA Law was amended, which enabled the JAXA to conduct research and development for security purposes. Earlier in 1998, it was decided to introduce information collection satellites.

(B) The Basic Plan for Space Policy

In 2016, the Basic Plan for Space Policy6 was approved by the Cabinet. This Basic Space Plan was formulated as a concrete ten-year development plan looking twenty years ahead. The outline of the Basic Plan is as follows. First, the Basic Plan describes the following environmental awareness surrounding Japan's space policy under six headings: (1) Changes in the outer space power balance: Shift from US-Soviet bilateral competition of the Cold War era to multilateral power balance; (2) Growing importance of outer space from a national security perspective; (3) Growing risks to secure and stable utilization of space: increasing threat from space debris and anti-satellite weapons; (4) Growing role of outer space to solve global challenges; (5) Industrial infrastructure underpinning Japanese space development and utilization is on shaky ground : industrial entities cease operation in space activities and entry of new competitors shrinks, and (6) Lack of organic cycles among science and technology, national security and industrial vitalization. Based on the above recognition, the Basic Plan points out the three goals of Japan's space policy: (1) Ensuring space security; (2) Promotion of space utilization in the civil sector; and (3) Maintenance and reinforcement of space-industry / science and technology infrastructure.

Out of nine items listed as Japan's specific initiatives including satellite positioning and satellite remote sensing, the Ministry of Defense is to be in charge of (1) Satellite remote sensing; (2) Satellite telecommunications and broadcasting; (3) Space transportation systems; (4) SSA (Space Situational Awareness); (5) MDA (Maritime Domain Awareness); (6) Early-warning functions, etc., and (7) Improving the resiliency of space systems across the board.

(2) Initiatives of the Ministry of Defense and the SDF

"That the Air Self-Defense Force may evolve into the Air and Space SDF is no longer a pipe dream," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated in his speech7 at an annual gathering of high-ranking SDF officers in September 2019. The 2019 MTDP formulated in 2018 mentions the establishment of the Space Domain Mission Unit and the development of the SSA system. A space operations squadron (tentative name) will be established in fiscal 2020 to secure Japan's advantage in space utilization.

(A) Satellite use by the SDF

The utilization of space by the MOD / SDF extends to many fields, including information gathering, communications, and positioning. Their first use of space began in 1977 when the JMSDF first employed commercial satellite communications services. The MOD is currently operating its two X-band defense communications satellites, aiming at a three-satellite formation in the future. The MOD began acquiring commercial satellite imagery in 1985, while the JMSDF began employing US GPS in 1993, and started to receive early warning information from the United States in 1996.

(B) The MOD / SDF's space utilization and the question of "peaceful purposes"

The use of space by the MOD and the SDF caused vehement controversy in the Diet in the mid-1980s in relation to the "peaceful purpose" stipulated by the National Space Development Agency Law and the Diet resolution called "Space Development for Exclusively Peaceful Purposes." In March 1985, the government drew on the so-called "generalization theory" permitting the SDF to use artificial satellites. Regarding the expenses for the JMSDF to receive communications via FLTSATCOM (US Navy Fleet Satellite Communication system) satellites on the occasion of its exercises with the US Navy, Director General of Defense Agency Kato stated, "Although the government interprets that the SDF would not be allowed to use satellites as a lethal force or a destructive force, we understand that the use of commonly used satellites is acceptable; and that the use of FLTSATCOM satellites this time is, from this viewpoint, not contradictory to the Diet resolution (on "Space Development for Exclusively Peaceful Purposes").8

Incidentally, in the Diet deliberations in March 1984, the use of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation's satellite communication lines by the SDF units in Ioto[U1](Iwo Jima) island was discussed in relation to "Exclusively Peaceful Purposes." Director General of Defense Agency Kurihara said, "SDF troops are actually using services of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation in various parts of Japan. We want to allow our units in Ioto to use services of the Corporation in the same manner as our other units use them. According to the Public Electric Communications Law, the Corporation must provide users with services far and wide, and fairly. Also the Corporation is obligated by the same law not to treat users discriminately according to their attributes. Therefore, we wish the units in the Ioto island to be allowed to utilize the Corporation's services in the same way that our other units are doing in Japan."9

Prime Minister Nakasone stated at the Budget Committee meeting in the same month that "If nuclear-propelled ships and merchant ships become a common use, submarines of the Defense Agency could also be powered by nuclear energy, which is not contradictory to the ‘peaceful purposes' principle. In other words, when nuclear energy ship propulsion gains versatility, its application for defense purpose will not be contradictory to the ‘peaceful purposes' principle. We explained this based on the Atomic Energy Basic Law, and were understood. On the other hand, the government did not make such an explanation about a case like the current issue of artificial satellites. Neither the reason for the proposal nor the government's answer employed such an explanation. The current situation is quite different from that in which the current Atomic Energy Basic Law was discussed."10 The Japanese government does not draw on the so-called "generalization theory" to explain the peaceful use of space. This demonstrates the recognition by the government that the SDF is a general user of public communications lines of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation, and that the SDF's use of the communications lines does not matter at all in relation to the peaceful use of space. Since the above-mentioned FLTSATCOM is the US Navy satellite communication system, the SDF's use of the system cannot be identical with the use of public communications services by a general user. Consequently, it seems that the Defense Agency seems to have resorted to the "generalization theory" to explain the SDF's use of FLTSATCOM satellites.

Meanwhile, the Basic Space Law enacted in 2008 stipulates: "The State shall take necessary measures to promote Space Development and Use to ensure international peace and security as well as to contribute to the national security of Japan." In 2012 the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Law was revised to enable the JAXA to conduct research and development for security purposes.11

(C) Initiatives by the Ministry of Defense and the SDF

In addition to enhancing existing initiatives, the current MTDP stipulates that the MOD / SDF should, at every stage from peacetime to contingency, endeavor to strengthen their capacity of securing Japan's advantage in space, through the establishment of the SSA system to ensure the stable use of space, and the development of the capability in coordination with the electromagnetic spectrum domain to hinder command and control and communications of an opponent. In addition, the MTDP sets forth that the MOD / SDF should strengthen cooperation with related organizations and countries; reorganize SDF units; and develop human resources.

With the increase of space junk (debris) and the development of anti-satellite weapon technology in the background, the MOD / SDF is making efforts to establish the SSA system by 2022 to safeguard their satellites from space debris and suspicious satellites. Specifically, they aim to acquire SSA-related equipment by the 2020 budget, and to create a linkage with the systems of the JAXA and the US military. As mentioned earlier, the JASDF plans to establish a space squadron. The introduction of SSA satellites is also under consideration.

Furthermore, the MOD / SDF is promoting inter-governmental cooperation with the United States in addition to research cooperation and human resources exchange with the JAXA. The MOD / SDF has been dispatching their personnel to the US "Air and Space Basic Course" to acquire expertise. In 2018, together with the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the JAXA, etc., the MOD / SDF joined for the first time in a multinational tabletop exercise --- the "Schriever Wargame" --- hosted by the US Air Force Space Command. This exercise, participated also by the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, etc., conducts various levels of broad discussions on responses to specific situations in space. Japan's international space cooperation is now underway.

3. Japan's cybersecurity initiatives

(1) Government-based initiatives
(A) History of Japan's cybersecurity efforts

In 1999, the Japanese government established the "Director-Generals Level Meeting of Government Ministries and Agencies Responsible for the Security of Information" to implement necessary measures to review the cyber-related legal systems; improve the relevant infrastructure for addressing hacker attacks; and combat cyber terrorism. In December 2000, the government formulated the "Special Action Measures to Counter Cyber-terrorism of Critical Infrastructure,"12 and endeavored to implement the Guideline under the coordination of the Cabinet Secretariat, also seeking necessary cooperation from private businesses. Afterwards, based on the Basic Law for Cybersecurity (2014), the Cybersecurity Strategy Headquarters was set up in the Cabinet in 2015, and the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) in the Cabinet Secretariat also in 2015. These organs are responsible for the planning, preparation, and overall coordination necessary to ensure the government's coordinated action on the securing of cybersecurity.

(B) Cybersecurity strategy

At present, the Japanese government is advancing various measures to realize "Society 5.0" proposed in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan.13 Once realized, cyberspace (virtual space) and physical space (real space) will be highly integrated there, and social dependence on cyberspace will increase. In the future, cybersecurity will become more important for securing safety.

The number of cyber-attack packets observed in 2018 was approximately 212.1 billion, a significant increase compared to approximately 150.4 billion in 2017,14 and the spread of smartphones and the spread and popularization of IoT devices will likely contribute to the expanding threat of cyberattacks.

The number of detected cyberattacks to government agencies was 182 in fiscal 2018, down from 226 in the previous fiscal year. Cyberattacks still continue. At the time of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, reportedly some 600 million cyberattacks were perpetrated during its preparation period, and 5.5 million during the Olympics time. It is now pointed out that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and other large-scale events may be targeted by attackers to attract the highest attention.15

According to the Cybersecurity Strategy formulated in 2018,16 since the use of cyber space permeates society, the possibility of significant economic and social losses due to cyberattacks is increasing exponentially. Recognizing this, the Japanese government will promote initiatives from three perspectives: (1) Mission assurance for service providers; (2) Risk management; and (3) Participation, coordination, and collaboration. Concrete measures to this end include: (1) Enabling socio-economic vitality and sustainable development; (2) Building a safe and secure society for the people; and (3) Contribution to the peace and stability of the international community and Japan's national security. Actually, these constitute targets and guidelines scheduled to be implemented in the coming three years. Furthermore, cross-cutting approaches to achieve these three policy goals include: (1) Development and assurance of cybersecurity human resource; (2) Advancement of research and development; and (3) Cooperation by everyone who is a major player in cybersecurity.

Specific security measures that the MOD / SDF is responsible for include (1) Communicating the ideas of a free, fair, and secure cyberspace; (2) Promoting the rule of law in cyberspace; (3) Ensuring national resilience; (4) Enhancing deterrence capabilities; (5) Strengthening cyber situational awareness; (6) Sharing expertise and coordination of policy in international cooperation and collaboration, and (7) Training and development of operational and expert personnel.

(2) Initiatives of the MOD and the SDF
(A) History of cybersecurity efforts by the MOD and the SDF

The MOD / SDF attended the above-mentioned "Director-Generals Level Meeting of Government Ministries and Agencies Responsible for the Security of Information" and promoted the following measures for "computer security" in fiscal 2000: (1) The trial construction of a high-level security system and the development of an operational assessment environment (The development of technical infrastructure); (2) The dispatching of personnel to universities and research institutes in the United States (The development of human infrastructure); and (3) The dispatching of personnel to the US military to investigate into frontier technology trends.

In March 2008, the SDF Command Control Communication Computers Systems Command was newly organized, thereby advancing preparedness by creating implementation guidelines to counteract cyberattacks. In 2014, the SDF newly established the Cyber Defense Group under SDF C4 Systems Command to further enhance and strengthen its cyber defense setup. In fiscal 2020, the Cyber Defense Group will increase the number of its staff to some 290 to enlarge its setup.17 By 2023, the setup of the SDF C4 Systems Command will be reviewed, and the Cyber Defense Group will be reorganized into new joint units.

(B) Future initiatives

The MOD / SDF has thus far introduced intrusion prevention systems; improved cyber defense analysis equipment; monitored communication networks and addressed cyberattacks around the clock. In the 2019 MTDP, the MOD / SDF will (1) advance preparedness to ensure cybersecurity; (2) understand the latest risks, countermeasures, and technological trends; (3) develop and secure human resources; and (4) contribute to government-based initiatives.

The following is a description of the major related activities of the MOD and the SDF. (1) Organizational and technical preparedness. Besides the above-mentioned increase in the number of personnel and the organizational improvement of the Cyber Defense Group, the following measures will be pursued: the introduction of equipment to gather information on the signs and methods of cyberattacks; the functional improvement of cyber defense analysis equipment; and the installation of facilities to conduct game-style cyber threat drills. (2) Understanding of the latest risks, countermeasures and technological trends. Cooperation with private businesses and, among other countries, the United States will be significant. To promote cooperation with private businesses, the MOD / SDF inaugurated the Cyber Defense Council (CDC) in cooperation with the defense industry in 2013, and has since then been working together with the defense industry to improve cyberattack response capabilities through joint exercise. The MOD / SDF holds with the United States discussions on cybersecurity through defense cooperation frameworks such as the Japan-US Cyber Defense Policy Working Group and the Japan-US IT Forum, and dispatches liaison personnel to the US army cyber schools. The MOD / SDF also participates in the US-Japan Cyber Dialogue that is a bilateral inter-governmental framework. The MOD / SDF's cybersecurity cooperation with other countries includes cyber talks between defense authorities with the United Kingdom and NATO; IT forums with Singapore and Vietnam, etc.; and the dispatching of MOD staff as researchers to the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Estonia. (3) Development and securing of human resources. Associated efforts include in-house education; the funding of staff learning at universities or colleges at home and abroad; and the utilization of external human resources by employing people with practical experience in private businesses.

4. Future issues, etc.

So far, we have reviewed Japan's space and cyber policies. In this section we will consider future issues.

(1) Cross-domain operations (coordination with the electromagnetic spectrum domain)

The current battle modality is a combination of land, sea, and air, as well as the new domains of space, cyberspace, and the electromagnetic spectrum. For this reason, future defense capabilities should not only enhance the quality and quantity of capabilities in individual domains, but also organically integrate capabilities of all domains. Cross-domain operations should be presupposed.

The use of artificial satellites for the purposes of information gathering, communications, positioning, etc. is essential for the implementation of cross-domain operations. Meanwhile, threats to the satellites are increasing. In March 2016, a total of 1007 civilian aircraft of 14 countries flying over the Korean Peninsula suffered GPS reception failure. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) concluded that the trouble was caused by North Korean jamming.18

Today, GPS signal jammers for automotive use are available at low cost everywhere in the world. In this situation, measures on space security should be coordinated with those of the electromagnetic spectrum domain in order to secure advantage in space utilization at all stages from peacetime to contingency. A space-related research project is budgeted for fiscal 2020 on the capability of obstructing an opponent's command and control and communications through coordination with the electromagnetic spectrum domain.

(2) Securing and development of human resources

"In strengthening defense capabilities, priority items should be strengthened as soon as possible, and the allocation of available resources should be flexible and selective, irrespective of the active budget and personnel assignment (the 2018 NDPG)." "During the planning period, efforts should be made to optimize organizations and operations by reviewing the existing organizations and operations that have become less important, and by assigning personnel mainly to the new domains of space, cyberspace, and the magnetic spectrum (the 2019 MTDP)."

As for the cyberspace domain, for example, the 2020 draft budget plans to increase the number of personnel of the Cyber Defense Group to some 290. Also, Defense Minister Kono states that by the end of fiscal 2023, the number of personnel of the Group including a unit each from the three branches of the SDF will be increased to one thousand and several hundred.19 Looking at other countries, however, China is estimated to have organized its cyberwarfare units of 175,000 personnel (including 30,000 for cyberattacks) under the Strategic Support Force. Russia is pointed out that it has its own cyber commando unit of 1,000 personnel, while North Korea is said to have cyber units manned by some 6,800 personnel. It is reported that these countries are actually conducting cyberattacks. Meanwhile, the United States Cyber Command has created the roughly 6,200-member cyber mission force.20 In this way, compared with other countries, the number of Japanese cyber defense personnel is overwhelmingly small, and a significant increase in personnel is an urgent issue.

Not only a budgeted increase in the number of personnel, but the securing of high-quality personnel and their education / training are also specific initiatives. It will matter how effective measures can be taken.

(3) Efforts to secure necessary budget

The fiscal 2020 draft budget has budgeted space-related expenses of about 50.6 billion yen and cyberspace-related expenses of about 25.6 billion yen. The space-related budget ranged from 20 billion yen to 80 billion yen in the past 6 years. Looking at its past breakdown, however, rentals for communication satellite lines and image data acquisition costs accounted for a greater part of each year's budget, whereas expenditures for policy implementation such as costs for research projects; the dispatching of personnel to the United States; and personnel education were not more than several hundred million yen.

The fiscal 2020 draft budget is noteworthy in that it generously allocates about 22 billion yen for the acquisition of capabilities to secure the stable use of space, and some 4 billion yen for the enhancement of information gathering capability utilizing outer space, besides a total of some 23.8 billion yen for rentals for communication satellite lines and image data acquisition costs.21 The situation surrounding defense-related expenditure in Japan may continue to be difficult. The focus will be on how to secure budgets for the new domains of space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum.


The MOD / SDF's space-related budget since 2015 (Unit: hundred million yen, %)22

Fiscal Year Space-related budget Communication lines /Data acquisition Ratio
2020(R2) 506 238 47
2019(H31) 896 616 69
2018(H30) 502 473 94
2017(H29) 427 384 90
2016(H28) 264 261 99
2015(H27) 340 290 85
(4) Necessity of formulating a comprehensive strategy

In the domains of space and cyberspace, it is important to ensure technological superiority as well as to counteract attacks. For that purpose, it is necessary to develop related frontier technologies of its own and to prevent technology leakage. In the domains of space and cyberspace, not only government agencies but also the private sector and research institutes including colleges and universities will play important roles. Neither of the NSS, the Basic Plan for Space Policy, or the Cybersecurity Strategy provides us with a comprehensive description on how to ensure technological superiority. It will be necessary for the Japanese Government to formulate a comprehensive strategy involving the private sector and research institutes.

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