KYODO News – GA 4 – The Space Race has Only Just Begun

The historical ‘space race’ was a time in the world when nations competed to be the first to obtain spaceflight capability. As time progressed and the United States manned the moon, 15 nations, including Japan, joined to create the International Space Station (ISS), the largest space manned facility in human history. Japan’s crucial contribution to the ISS forms through the Japanese Experiment Module “Kibo” and the H-II Transfer Vehicle “KOUNOTORI” (HTV, a cargo transfer vehicle to the ISS.) Japan’s space program is advancing and slowly becoming one of the world’s main space competitors. Space exploration has been and will always be an unstoppable force. With this, there is a general concern regarding the implementation of space research and exploration, alongside the allocation of land and resources in outer space. The rapidly declining exhaustion of Earth’s natural resources poses a threat to the exploitation of space resources, whereas nations have free reign to replenish and deplete precious metals such as gold, silver, and platinum, which could be the product of supernovas and similar energetic events. These metals are some of Japan’s most abundant materials, and as a nation, there is a heavy emphasis on ensuring that these resources aren’t expunged by other nations in outer space. 

The Outer Space Treaty currently in place, is a list of general rules, with little specificity. Nations of the SPECPOL committee have joined together to address the concern, while trying to indicate an expansion to the Outer Space Treaty, in order to eliminate any discrepancies or dominations within the allocation of resources. Through collaborative efforts, Japan, the Republic of Ireland, the Republic of Indonesia, and others, formed the United Nations Commission of Equitable Space Exploration (UNCESE). The plan reflects the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals and works to provide a more definitive framework for the goals of the Outer Space Treaty. The plan also lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order to space international claims. UNCESE utilizes the UN Law of Sea, an active treaty that establishes rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources, and transforms it to be applicable to space. Overall, nations are in agreement that this plan is viable and will further the agenda to combat problems that could further arise. Japan urges to establish definite plans so that resources could be responsibly used and extracted to the nation’s benefit.