Site: Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI)
Space Industry Division
Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 100, Japan
Date Visited: October 23, 1992
Report Author: N. Helm
Mr. Iefusa Osada
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has been credited with providing the policy directives that helped form the dynamic economic growth of present-day Japan. MITI's role as a government ministry is first, to work closely with private industry to identify strategic markets and products. Once specific products or market areas have been selected, MITI and other government agencies then focus government financing, research subsidies and technology development on the selected product areas, providing the initial development stimulus. Normally, long-term support is assured without the need for annual justifications of programs and budgets. As the product passes through development stages, government support is reduced and private industry gains responsibility for the market success.
The meeting at MITI was most cordial and two excellent documents on the Japanese space program, noted in the bibliography, were provided.
In the space arena MITI works within a well established "National Organization for Space Development Activities," along with the other ministries and agencies of the government. The functional description of this organization is shown in Figure MITI.1.
Figure MITI.1. National Organization for Space Development Activities
An examination of the organizational activities shows that MITI has primary responsibility for earth observation and space experiments such as micro-gravity. In addition to promoting these civil space programs, MITI promotes the commercial space industry including remote sensing databases and positioning systems. Further, MITI is deeply involved in international cooperation and joint research programs and provides support for international standards groups.
The Japanese organizational structure for space activities goes beyond specific ministries, however, and enlists executive organizations, support agencies and most importantly, private sector organizations such as the powerful Keidanren that includes representatives from the very large industrial organizations, and the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies, Inc. that includes more than 140 corporate members. This larger organization, the Space Activities Commission (SAC), with lines of responsibility, is shown in Figure MITI.2.
Figure MITI.2. Organization for Space Activities
The budgets for space activities in Japan have increased dramatically in the past few years. Figure MITI.3 shows this budget through 1991. The Japanese government is currently spending about 180 billion yen, about $1.48 billion. This is about one-tenth of NASA's budget and about one-half of what the European governments are spending in space. However, the one to ten comparison between Japanese and American space budgets is much more disproportionate when military space is added. Japan has virtually no military space activities, whereas U.S. defense and intelligence space-related activities currently run about $20 billion per annum.
Figure MITI.3. Budget for Space Activities
MITI is one of the Japanese government agencies responsible for pushing the nation's space activities towards such "practical programs" as communications, broadcasting and remote sensing, although the MPT is the lead agency for space communications and broadcasting. These programs not only have business, entertainment and social benefits within the nation, but provide the only visible commercial benefits and export potential realized from investments in space.
One of the newest programs supported by MITI in the earth observation area is the "World Environment and Disaster Observation System (WEDOS)." This laudable global program will help all nations mitigate the terrible effects of natural and human-induced disasters. The program should also eventually produce a good market for sensors and receiving equipment.
MITI also assists in the development of scientific and exploration spacecraft. It is also noteworthy that, except for some basic industrial research capability, MITI maintains no laboratories as part of its ministerial activities in space. Most of its funds go directly to private industry or, to a lesser extent, to laboratories maintained by other ministries.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry actively engages in selecting and funding space programs that have strong applications and commercial benefits. MITI is the lead government organization for Earth observation and some space experiments. However, the ratio of budgets expended for space technology development and programs in commercial applications versus exploration and science is quite different between Japan and the U.S. Further, the promotion of space programs and technology is fairly new in Japan, compared to the U.S. A number of ambitious communications satellite and launch vehicle programs are still under development in Japan. The large export market that the U.S. now enjoys in space hardware and services will probably be reduced in the future as a consequence of current Japanese R&D activities.