Early-Career Scholar Forum

A Quest for Equality International Connections in Japan’s Space Program, 1950 – 2003

Friday, 5 February 2021 | 12:15 - 13:00 (JST)
Zoom Meeting
  • Subodhana Wijeyeratne Lecturer, Faculty of Business & Commerce, Keio University
  • Shirahase Sawako TCJS Director
Event Description

Despite its considerable independent accomplishments – such as the extraordinary Hayabusa probes – international links have been a core to the development of the Japanese space program. One of the crucial elements of this is story of its gradual alienation from the United States. From 1954 to the 1980s, Japan’s space aspirations were intimately connected to the assistance their former conquerors could provide. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, strategic and economic priorities led to the US limiting technology exports. The Japanese also began to experience major frustrations with American assistance – which, combined with recovering national confidence in the context of an economic boom, impelled them to branch out to other countries for space cooperation, while reducing their reliance on the USA. These tensions were made manifest in the American-led destruction of Japan’s indigenous satellite industry in the late 1980s, which served to alienate many within Japan’s space industry. As a result, in the 1990s and 2000s, Japan pursued relations with a variety of other partners, as a way of both securing markets and information they’d otherwise be denied, and in order to bolster their position as a major space power. The end result of these trends is the contemporary formation of the Japanese space program, as manifest in JAXA – an institution with intimate links with American space technology, that nonetheless pursues a variety of similar links with countries from Ghana to Germany.