Japan's parliament enacts bill for defence use of space
Japan's parliament enacted the country's first law on the use of outer space for military purposes on Wednesday, allowing for the development and operation of spy satellites, the dpa reported.
The bill's passage was controversial because Japan has a pacifist constitution and it would overturn a 1969 parliamentary resolution that restricts the use of space to non-military purposes.
The law changes Japan's policy of space use from ''non-military" to ''non-aggression'' and allows the government to send equipment in space compatible with a defence-oriented policy, according to Yonhap news agency.
The bill was backed by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's Liberal Democratic Party, its coalition ally New Komeito party and the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, and opposed by the opposition Social Democratic Party and Japanese Communist Party.
Concerns about Japan's security rose after North Korea test-fired a missile over Japan in 1998, prompting Tokyo to upgrade its military defence shield with the United States.
In 2003 Japan launched four satellites to gather intelligence but the ability of the satellites is limited to spotting objects as small as 1 metre at maximum. The new equipment would include early warning satellites that can detect signs of a ballistic missile launch and a spy satellite that can view objects as small as 15 centimetres.