Shinzo Abe delivers a policy speech in Tokyo on Monday, Jan. 20 (Provider: AP)

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced plans to form a defence unit designed to wage war in space.

The Space Domain Mission Unit will launch in April as part of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, Abe said in a policy speech marking the start of the year’s parliamentary session today.

He said Japan must also defend itself from threats in cyberspace and protects its satellites.

A number of nations are now developing space weapons, with concerns growing that China and Russia are seeking ways to interfere, disable or destroy spacecraft.

Japan will ‘drastically bolster capability and system in order to secure superiority’ in those areas, Abe said.

The unit will cooperate with the US Space Command that Trump established in August, as well as Japan’s space exploration agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Abe has pushed for Japan’s Self-Defense Force to expand its international role and capability by bolstering cooperation and weapons compatibility with the US. It will also work alongside American troops and as it grows concerned about the increasing capabilities of China and North Korea.

Abe, in marking Sunday’s 60th anniversary of the signing of Japan-U.S. security treaty, vowed to bolster Japan’s capability and cooperation with the U.S., including in the areas of space and cybersecurity.

Future conflicts are likely to involve space warfare (Credit: Getty/ESA)

The UK needs to build a space force and get ready to fight terrorists and wage war in the heavens, industry leaders have warned.

In the future, terrorists and nation-states will be able to wreak economic havoc by targeting communications satellites.

The incoming president of UK Space, Will Whitehorn, has said ‘we will see and should see the creation of a space force in the UK’ to help protect the nation against these new threats.

Speaking at the UK Space Conference in Newport, the former president of Virgin Galactic said: ‘My view is that as we go forward, there clearly has to be a complete and utter co-ordination of the way that government at all levels responds to the industrialisation of space.

‘We are about to go through an industrial revolution in space, and it will be nothing short of that.

‘We are at the stage where a lot of technologies have been developed that can do many of the things – that if you were listening to Greta at the UN yesterday, or you see what is going on in the reality of climate change – a lot of the industrial processes or necessities that we will need are going to be up there, in that hostile environment in space.

‘If we do that then we have to be able to defend ourselves in space, if we know there are non-state and state actors who may be inclined to disrupt in the future the ability of any nation state to operate commercially in space.’

Whitehorn said that a time was coming when having ‘a co-ordinated approach to space across all of our military is going to be important’.

He explained that it was not the role of UK Space, the space trade association, to be involved in that directly.

But he said its role as the commercial representative of the industry was to make it clear that when dealing with hostile situations, it is better to have somebody out there who is going to protect the interests of all in space.

Currently, space warfare is likely to involve little more than rival nations destroying or jamming each other’s satellites.

Whilst this would knock out communications on the ground and potentially cause economic damage, it would not actually kill civilians back on Earth.

However, knocking out a satellite will soon be relatively straight-forward.

Whitehorn added: ‘It is clear that these technologies are capable of being taken to a level of relatively unsophisticated use.

‘What nation-states like the UK have to do is make sure we are ahead of that game. And we only get ahead by thinking about it in advance.’

In 2018, US intelligence agencies said both China and Russia would have ‘destructive’ space weapons within a few years.





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