Security in the Asia Pacific Region and U.S.-Japan Space Cooperation

Frank A. Rose
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Washington, DC
February 13, 2015

Panel Details

9:30 – 10:50 am
Session 1: “Security in the Asia Pacific Region and U.S.-Japan Space Cooperation”
Moderator: Victoria Samson, Secure World Foundation
Yasuaki Hashimoto, National Institute for Defense Studies
Yuichiro Nagai, University of Tokyo
Deputy Assistant Secretary Douglas Loverro, U.S. Department of Defense
Assistant Secretary Frank Rose, U.S. Department of State


Thanks to you all for having me this morning. I’m so pleased to be up here with my Japanese colleagues as well as Doug Loverro from the Pentagon. I’d also like to thank the Elliot School and Scott Pace, as well as co-sponsors PARI at the University of Tokyo and the Mitsubishi Research Institute, for organizing this important discussion.

Security in the Asia Pacific

This morning’s panel is particularly well timed, as I’ve recently returned from Japan and will be heading back to the region in just over a week for the U.S.-Japan Space Security Dialogue in Tokyo.

Space cooperation between the United States and Japan has a long history, built on the extensive civil and scientific cooperation among NASA, NOAA, and other U.S. agencies and their Japanese counterparts.

And while U.S.-Japan space security cooperation is relatively new, Japan has taken a critical leadership role in those efforts.

Our discussions on these issues have grown into one of the most important relationships we have with our Allies and partners on outer space security issues.

My work in the region, particularly when it comes to outer space cooperation and security, has really shown me the increasing role Japan is playing to address both regional and global security challenges.

The rebalance in the Asia-Pacific region reflects our recognition that the United States must broaden and deepen our engagement there at all levels, including addressing emerging security challenges such as the long-term sustainability, stability, safety, and security of the space environment.

It’s been a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time. But as Secretary Kerry will tell you, extraordinary transformations are the norm in the Asia-Pacific region today.

Strengthening the U.S.-Japan Alliance

The United States-Japan Alliance has long been the cornerstone of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Our partnership with Asia-Pacific nations not only enhances the national security of our respective countries, but also strengthens strategic stability in the region as well as international peace and security globally.

We recognize the need to enhance our Alliance with Japan in wide-ranging areas of common interest in order to address the changing security environment. Part of our effort to strengthen and modernize our Alliance is through enhanced space cooperation.

Cooperation on space security is now part of the Common Strategic Objectives of the Alliance, and bilateral cooperation on civil and security space was recognized in the outcomes of summits between President Obama and former Prime Minister Noda in 2012 and again with Prime Minister Abe in 2014.

Recognizing the need to confront emerging security challenges and update the alliance for the 21st century, we are currently working closely with Japan to ensure that space security cooperation is included for the first time in the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines, which provide a general framework and policy direction for the roles and missions of the two countries and ways of cooperation and coordination.

Cooperation on space security has expanded alongside the President’s rebalance to Asia. What began as a discussion of threats and possibilities for collaboration has turned into a full-range of cooperative efforts bilaterally, regionally, and multilaterally.

Bilateral Space Cooperation

Recognizing the numerous opportunities for cooperation on space issues, the United States and Japan have held several space security dialogues in the last five years, in addition to ongoing civil space dialogues.

In fact, due to the success and robustness of our space security and civil space dialogues, our governments have also established a Comprehensive Dialogue on Space at the request of President Obama and former Prime Minister Noda, in order to address the bilateral relationship at a strategic level and to ensure a whole-of-government approach to space matters. We have held two Comprehensive Dialogues to date, with a third meeting to be held later this year in Japan.

Through these dialogues, we not only discuss possible avenues of cooperation and exchange space policies, we also have made tremendous progress in furthering our tangible space security cooperation.

In regards to improving our space situational awareness – specifically, improving our shared ability to rapidly detect, warn of, characterize, and attribute natural and man-made disturbances to space systems – in 2013 the United States signed a Space Situational Awareness (SSA) information sharing agreement with Japan.

Building on the foundation of that agreement, we are also exploring the possibility of establishing “two-way” SSA sharing with Japan. We hope that as our space surveillance capabilities improve, we will be able to notify satellite operators earlier and with greater accuracy in order to prevent collisions in space.

We are also looking at how we can expand cooperation on utilizing space systems for maritime domain awareness. To that end, the United States and Japan held the first “Use of Space for Maritime Domain Awareness” table top exercise last year.

We have also worked hard to expand our “people-to-people” cooperation. Between Japanese visits to Washington and my own visits to Tokyo, I find myself engaging with my Japanese counterparts nearly every other month.

Members of the Japanese Ministry of Defense attend U.S. Air Force space training out in Colorado Springs, and a member of my own team at AVC, along with a U.S. airman, has just finished a year-long study on space policy within the Japanese government.

Such cooperation has also produced great successes in the academic and NGO communities, such as the excellent work done here at the Space Policy Institute.

Multilateral Cooperation

We also work closely together to cooperate and to coordinate positions on multilateral space issues. We hold an annual trilateral space security dialogue with Australia and Japan to coordinate our positions on these space security issues.

Our joint efforts to advance the work of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) Working Group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities (LTS) continue to make progress.

Perhaps one of the most beneficial transparency and confidence-building measures, or TCBMs, for ensuring sustainability and security in space could be the adoption of an International Code of Conduct to prevent mishaps, misperceptions, and mistrust in space. A code would establish guidelines, or rules of the road, to reduce the risks of debris-generating events, including collisions.

The United States is working with the European Union and other spacefaring nations, like Japan, to advance such a Code and in the Asia-Pacific region. Both Japan and Australia have also endorsed its development.


In his State of the Union, President Obama spoke of the need to modernize our alliances in the Asia Pacific to meet common international challenges.

In his State of the Union, President Obama spoke of the need to modernize our alliances in the Asia Pacific to meet common international challenges.

With the Government of Japan as a strong partner in space security, we are working together to do just that. Thanks very much, and I look forward to the discussion.