Japan Current Affairs - 2019

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Japan approves biggest defence budget

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved approved 5.13 trillion yen ($43.6 billion) in defence spending for the fiscal year starting in April 2017.

It is Japan’s highest annual defence budget announced so far. It is up by 1.4% from the initial budget for the current fiscal year. Now it will be sent to Parliament (Diet) for debate and approval.

Key facts
  • Under the new budget, Japan aims to beef up its ballistic missile defences, allocating funds for a new interceptor missile under joint development with the United States.
  • It also earmarks funds to dispatch extra personnel to the Philippines and Vietnam to increase gathering and sharing of information.
  • The funds have been increased monitoring operations and to maintain mastery of air and sea to counter attacks against “island areas” which are disputed territory.
  • Separately, Japanese Coast Guard will increase security around the islands by allocating a record 210 billion yen, which includes two new patrol ships and the hiring of 200 more personnel.
Comment

It marks the fifth straight annual increase in annual defence budget in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats and a territorial row with China. Japan is on constant alert against neighbouring North Korea, a rouge nuclear state which has conducted two underground nuclear tests and more than 20 missile launches in the year 2016. The defence budget rise also reflects the hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to build up Japan’s military, which since World War II has been constitutionally limited to self defence. PM Abe is also pushing revisions to the pacifist constitution of Japan, strongly backed new security laws for making it possible for Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since the end of the war.

Month: Categories: Defence & SecurityInternational

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Japan successfully launches space junk collector into orbit

Japan’s space agency (JAXA) successfully launched a Kounotori 6 (HTV-6) spacecraft that will deliver a large magnetic tether, a space junk collector technology into orbit.

The spacecraft was launched on board of H-IIB rocket from Tanegashima Space Center.  It was also carrying essential supplies for International Space Station (ISS).

Key Facts
  • The space junk collector (electromagnetic tether) will perform Kounotori Integrated Tether Experiments (KITE) in order to test out new technology.
  • It is an experimental space scavenger that aims to study possibility of getting rid of space junk (debris) left into orbit by earlier space exploration missions.
  • It has been designed by JAXA engineers in collaboration with Nitto Seimo Co., a Japanese fishing net company.
  • The space scavenger is large magnetic tether made from thin wires of stainless steel and aluminium. It is designed to redirect space junk towards Earth’s atmosphere.
  • In theory, the net-like tether will generate enough slowing effect to influence the trajectory of space debris toward Earth’s atmosphere where they will burn up.
Why there is need of space junk collector technology?

More than 5 decades of human space exploration since the first Soviet-launched Sputnik satellite in 1957 has produced this hazardous belt of orbiting debris in the space. There are estimated to be more than 100 million pieces are circling our planet in the lower orbit, posing a growing threat to future space exploration. These pieces of debris travel at high speeds. A relatively small piece of orbital debris can inflict a great deal of damage on satellites or spacecrafts orbiting in the space. This phenomenon is Kessler Syndrome which describes a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in low earth Orbit.

Month: Categories: InternationalScience & Technology

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