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Article Japan: Space Resources Act Enacted

Japan’s new Act on Promotion of Business Activities Related to the Exploration and Development of Space Resources (Act No. 83 of 2021) (Space Resources Act) was published in the Official Gazette on June 23, 2021. The act will come into force on December 23, 2021. (Space Resources Act, Supp. Provisions art. 1.)

The act defines “space resources” as water, minerals, and other natural resources that exist in outer space, including on the moon and other celestial bodies. (Art. 2, item 1.) Under the act, a person needs to obtain a permit in order to pursue space resources extraction activities. The application for the permit is combined with a permit for launching an artificial satellite. (Act on the Launching of Artificial Satellites and Management of Artificial Satellites, Act No. 76 of 2016 (Space Activity Act), art. 3.) In addition to items required for the permit under the Space Activities Act (including, among other things, the satellite launch-rocket design and the flight path of the satellite), an applicant for the space resources extraction permit must attach a business activity plan to the application. The activity plan must include the purpose of the proposed space resources exploration and exploitation activity; the term, location, method, and other details of the activity; and other matters specified by a Cabinet ordinance. (Art. 3, para. 1.)

When the prime minister reviews the application, he or she must consult with the minister of economy, trade and industry. (Space Resources Act art. 3, para. 3.) When the prime minister grants a permit to the applicant, the prime minister must publicly announce the name of the person receiving the permit and the business activity plan. (Art. 4.)

The Space Resources Act provides that the person who obtained the permit owns the space resources that the person exploits in accordance with the approved activity plan. (Art. 5.)  

Other Countries with Space Resources Laws

There is no international agreement that addresses or determines whether space business to obtain resources is permitted. The United States allows commercial exploration of space under the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015. Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates each have a dedicated law for the exploration and exploitation of space resources. Thus, Japan is the fourth country in the world to pass a space resources law.

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Umeda, Sayuri. Japan: Space Resources Act Enacted. 2021. Web Page.

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Umeda, S. (2021) Japan: Space Resources Act Enacted. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

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