This article deals with the possibilities and challenges of Japan's dual-use space situational awareness (SSA) systems. Japan is unique in a way that military use of outer space was completely prohibited for almost 40 years until the Basic Space Act (2008) became effective. The change in its space policy was decided because of the rapidly worsening security environment in East Asia, accompanied by preeminent threats to the safety, stability and sustainable use of outer space that constitutes a prerequisite for the safety and welfare of any country. This has led Japan to begin developing a full-scale SSA operation. However, Japan's long-standing non-military practice forces it to design and develop its SSA systems in a different manner than other advanced spacefaring nations. Given such conditions/restrictions, this article first identifies a Japanese means of constructing full-scale dual-use SSA systems, particularly taking into account the functions and capabilities of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the significance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and a series of recent governmental decisions. The merits and challenges of Japan's whole-of-government construction of the dual-use SSA will then be explored; this involves difficult processes to coordinate different defense and civil mission requirements. The conclusion envisions a balance between the Japan Air Self Defense Force's superior air defense capability and JAXA's accumulated technical capabilities, which together would enable full-fledged defense space utilization starting with the SSA.
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