Tokyo aims for closer space technology ties with ASEAN

TOKYO - The Japanese government is looking to extend its security collaboration with Southeast Asian countries into the field of space research and exploration.

Tokyo plans to ask Washington to allocate one slot on the International Space Station to countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This would allow an ASEAN astronaut to work on joint experiments at the Kibo Laboratory, or the Japanese Experiment Module, of the ISS.

Like Washington, Tokyo has positioned space exploration and cyber-related matters as top security issues. The Japanese government has been already pushing for greater co-operation with ASEAN members in cybersecurity matters.

The US plans to increase the number of crew on the ISS from six to seven from fiscal 2018, when the operation of privately funded spacecraft, successors to the government's space shuttles, is scheduled to begin.

Tokyo intends to ask Washington to allocate the additional slot to ASEAN members, but it is also considering giving Japan's slot to the bloc.

In principle, countries that send astronauts to the space station pay for their voyage. As such, ASEAN countries would be expected to pick up their own tab, which would come to around 9 billion yen (US$71.8 million.)

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