TOKYO — Space is a key area of cooperation for Japan with the United States, its closest ally, amid heightened tensions with an increasingly assertive China, which itself aims to become a space power.
Tokyo has said it hopes to put one of its astronauts on the lunar surface – the first non-American – in the latter half of the 2020s as part of NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the moon.
Japan has an extensive space program, mainly focused on developing launchers and space probes. But it doesn’t have a human flight program and has relied on the United States and Russia to carry its astronauts into space. More Japanese have visited the International Space Station other than citizens of the United States and Russia.
Space cooperation is likely to come up during U.S. President Joe Biden’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Kyodo news has reported. Biden is visiting Tokyo this week as part of his first Asian trip since taking office.