WASHINGTON — The Japanese government plans to join NASA in its Artemis program of lunar exploration, although the details about how it will contribute remain to be worked out.
In an Oct. 18 statement posted on Twitter, the office of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said that his government’s Strategic Headquarters for National Space Policy had decided the country would join NASA in its plans to return humans to the moon, one that could lead to Japanese astronauts one day setting foot there.
“At long last, Japan too will turn over a new page leading to lunar and space exploration,” Abe said in an English-language statement. “Today, we decided on a policy of participating in the U.S.’s challenging new venture, as an ally connected to the U.S. by strong bonds.”
In a separate Japanese-language document, the government outline several reasons for participating in the NASA-led effort, including diplomacy and security, international competitiveness, commercial opportunities and support for later missions to Mars.
“The program aims at maintaining a space station orbiting the moon, manned exploration of the lunar surface, and other undertakings, and Mars and other destinations are also in our sights,” Abe’s office said.
The Japanese statement said Japan would ...