US and Japan to jointly track ships via satellite and cooperate on...

US and Japan to jointly track ships via satellite and cooperate on space debris

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On March 11, 2013, the United States and Japan said that they would cooperate in the satellite monitoring of ships. The recent move is aimed at keeping a watch on Chinese vessels and also to monitor countries like North Korea sailing near Japan.

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The two countries released a joint statement which said that they have agreed on a legal framework for the provision of information on space debris from the US to Japan. The agreement has been confirmed as the material sometimes endangers the Earth-orbiting satellites. Officials from the US and Japan held their first meeting of the bilateral Comprehensive Dialogue on Space, which is a new consultative framework in Tokyo. The meeting was held amid the growing interest of China in pursuing its maritime interests, particularly over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are also claimed by Beijing.

China launched its first manned spaceship in 2003 and since then it has also been expanding its activities outside the Earth’s atmosphere to catch up with Russia and the United States. Japan and the United States  reaffirmed their interest in pursuing transparency and confidence building measures for space activities, which includes efforts for code of conduct. It will be interesting to see how other Asian countries like China and North Korea will react to the new venture between Japan and the US.