Connecting People & Ideas to Advance Mutual Interests in U.S.-Asia Relations

U.S.-Japan Space Forum

Program Overview

The U.S.-Japan Space Forum (USJSF) is a standing committee of American and Japanese space policy experts and officials, meeting twice yearly to examine critical developments and opportunities for bilateral and multilateral space-related activities. This forum runs roughly in parallel to the U.S.-Japan track-1 “Comprehensive Dialogue on Space.” Reflecting the increasingly important role of the private sector in national space capabilities, the Forum integrates the perspectives of a wide array of experts, including corporate, academic, and other non-government players, in an informal environment that is conducive to creative and frank discourse. The USJSF is co-chaired by Mansfield Foundation President & CEO Frank Jannuzi, Saadia Pekkanen of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, and Setsuko Aoki of Keio University Law School.

USJSF meets for its inaugural meeting in Missoula, Montana in 2014

Aiming to contribute to a stronger basis for coordination of space policy and governance, the U.S.-Japan Space Forum strives to deliver policy recommendations addressing bilateral cooperation in the realm of space technologies, policies, and strategic direction. Towards this goal, In July 2016, the U.S.-Japan Space Forum published the above Recommendations for the Japan-U.S. Comprehensive Space Dialogues 日米宇宙フォーラム:「宇宙に関する包括的日米対話」への提言. This publication supersedes an earlier Forum publication: Mid-Term Objectives and Near-Term Priorities for Japan-U.S. Space Cooperation.


Program Objectives

• Identify and discuss developments of importance to domestic and bilateral space cooperation
• Advance ideas of common concern and interest within the bilateral space policy community
• Complement the U.S.-Japan Comprehensive Dialogue on Space by disseminating reactions and conclusions reflecting industry imperatives and perspectives
• Establish and renew professional contacts between the Japanese and American space industries and governments

Program Updates

Policy Recommendations for Maritime Domain Awareness and Space Technology

Policy Recommendations for Maritime Domain Awareness and Space Technology

In 2021, the Mansfield Foundation convened a working group of practitioners and scholars to address how best to establish more effective maritime domain awareness in the contested South China Sea. The spark for this working group came from the U.S.-Japan Space Forum, a standing committee of American and Japanese space policy experts examining critical developments and opportunities for cooperation in space.

The group consisted of ten experts from five countries with significant economic and strategic interests in the South China Sea: Australia, Japan, the Philippines, the United States, and Vietnam. These countries have strong records of bilateral and multilateral engagement in the region, and the group put forward strategies to increase cooperation on pairing space technologies to enhance Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA).

In October 2023, the group published a policy brief which outlines a number of workable proposals to increase this cooperation, while also laying out a framework for policymakers to work across the five nations for mutual benefit in the global commons. The publication lays out emerging technologies in MDA, with a special focus on space observation tools. Key policy recommendations include building a consortium of universities or research institutes (e.g. national labs) from the participant nations which can act as neutral brokers for a range of MDA solutions, as well as creating a government-to-government fusion center to handle sensitive information related to law enforcement, upholding sanctions, and other government activities.

Read the full publication here.

Policy Recommendations from 12th U.S.-Japan Space Forum Meeting

In October 2022, the U.S.-Japan Space Forum gathered in Tokyo for its 12th meeting to discuss recent changes in the operating environment for space businesses, government policy towards outer space, and the applications of space to traditional domains like maritime domain awareness. Forum members put together the attached brief outlining the key takeaways and policy recommendations stemming from the discussion. A few highlights:

  • The war in Ukraine shows the essential role of satellites for wartime strategy making, and the nations of the world must act now to harden these systems and prepare sufficient contingency planning.
  • Emerging spacefaring nations, such as the Philippines, Vietnam, and Australia, must be considered and directly involved in the conversation about creating standardized licensing and certification to ensure that any U.S.-Japan framework will be built to accommodate new partners rather than exclude them.
  • The United States and Japan should work with regional partners to invest in and support the growth of maritime domain awareness as a common good for all nations, including the ones which lack or possess limited space capabilities.
    • Both the U.S. Government and the Government of Japan should continue the trend of increasing investment in their respective military space branches, namely the Space Force and the Space Operations Squadron, so that these services can expand their ability to pursue international capacity building exercises, provide public goods, and promote space sustainability.

For a full list of takeaways and recommendations, see the attached document: XII Space Forum Takeaways & Recommendations

Staff writer: Kelly Primrose

12th Meeting of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum in Tokyo

From October 18-20, the Mansfield Foundation was proud to host an in-person meeting of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum in Japan. This private forum culminated in a public on the afternoon of October 20. More information on this symposium, “Applying Space Tech to Maritime Domain Awareness in the South China Sea,” is available online here.

This series of discussions was the first in-person meeting of the Forum since 2019, and the group was excited to continue discussions that have continued virtually over the past two years.

The Space Forum identifies and discusses developments of importance to domestic and bilateral space cooperation, and many discussions during the week looked at the intersection of space and Maritime Domain Awareness, welcoming perspectives from other regional stakeholders from Australia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The forum looks forward to advancing ideas of common concern and interest within the bilateral space policy community, and synthesizing the input from partner countries in future meetings.

Mansfield Announces New Initiative on Maritime Domain Awareness in SCS

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation has received a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo for a new initiative: a workshop in which participants will discuss the application of space technology to maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the South China Sea.

The South China Sea plays an important role in global maritime trade, connecting a number of East Asian and Southeast Asian nations and providing essential undersea resources. However, there are considerable challenges to maintaining freedom of navigation in the area, including terrorism, piracy, smuggling, environmental pollution, and territorial disputes. These obstacles have serious implications for the economy and security of the parties who rely on the South China Sea for transportation and trade. Fortunately, space technology has the ability to mitigate the impacts of these challenges. Since 2008, Earth observation satellites have revolutionized security and improved MDA in the South China Sea, as they can collect data and track maritime vessels that are misrepresenting their locations, even under cloud cover or in the dark.

Data collection and vessel tracking are further enhanced by effective communication between interested parties. The United States and Japan have a well-established cooperative relationship in space research, evident in programs like the Mansfield Foundation’s biannual U.S-Japan Space Forum (more information available on our program page.) However, the need for more comprehensive dialogue and information-sharing has become evident as challenges in the South China Sea intensify. Therefore, the Mansfield Foundation will invite governmental and private sector experts from Australia, Vietnam, and the Philippines to join the United States and Japan in a multilateral working group, which will meet in Tokyo in 2021. This working group will produce a public report of their findings and will generate actionable policy recommendations to improve space and MDA capabilities and advance the ideals of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The results of this workshop will not only have far-reaching benefits for strategic and operational decision-making but will also forge essential human connections that will bolster multilateral cooperation going forward.

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation wishes to extend its whole-hearted thanks to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo for its indispensable assistance with this important initiative.

This program is sponsored is conducted with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation.




U.S.-Japan Space Forum Convenes for 9th Meeting

On Thursday, August 28th, the Mansfield Foundation convened the 9th meeting of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum to discuss the issue of orbital debris and how the United States and Japan can cooperate to ensure the sustainable use of space through scientific research and international norm-setting. Dr. Moriba Jah of the University of Texas at Austin and Mr. Susumu Yoshitomi of the National Space Policy Secretariat of the Government of Japan gave excellent presentations of the current challenges facing stakeholders as they seek to expand, maintain, and decommission their satellite fleets.

Afterwards, Major-General John E. Shaw and Lieutenant-Colonel Toshihide Ajiki offered their assessment of orbital debris and space traffic management as facets of national security and as potential sources of conflict in the new space age. This was the first time the Forum has welcomed members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Japan Self-Defense Force, and we look forward to future opportunities for collaboration.

These meetings would not be possible without the gracious support of our sponsors: Boeing, IHI Corporation, Marubeni America Corporation, MELCO, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, NEC, L3Harris Corporation, and Raytheon.

U.S.-Japan Space Forum Event | Sept 24 2019

Collaboration in New Space

A U.S.-Japan Space Forum event

September 24, 2019 from 9:00am to 12:00pm

U.S. Capitol Visitors Center | RSVP for Room Information
First Street NE
Washington, DC 20515

Photo ID required for entry  |  Please check prohibited items list

Please RSVP in advance to Natasha Little at

Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-serve basis

The U.S.-Japan Space Forum (USJSF) is a standing committee of American and Japanese space policy experts and officials, meeting twice yearly to examine critical developments and opportunities for bilateral and multilateral space-related activities. USJSF is co-convened by Frank Jannuzi of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation and Saadia Pekkanen of the University of Washington Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies.

The United States and Japan are critical partners in space, with both governments and commercial sectors working closely to advance shared interests. This panel discussion explores the implications of the new space race and the trends of democratization, commercialization, and militarization that define it. The public capstone presents research funded by the Center for Global Partnership (CGP), which can be explored in further detail in Dr. Pekkanen’s publication, Governing the New Space Race.

9:00 – 9:20
Welcome Remarks
Congressman Ami Bera

9:20 – 10:45
CGP Public Capstone: Governing the New Space Race

Saadia M. Pekkanen, Co-Director, Space Policy and Research Center (SPARC), University of Washington

P.J. Blount, Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Luxembourg

Brian Israel, Co-Founder and Legal Counsel, ConsenSys Space

John Mittleman, General Engineer, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

10:45 – 11:00


11:00 – 12:00
Space: New Frontiers and New Technologies
Hiroshi Koyama, Executive Fellow, Electronic Systems Group, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

Ron Lopez, President and Managing Director, Astroscale

Yuya Nakamura, Co-Founder, President, and CEO, Axelspace

Masashi Sato, Manager, Global Affairs and Business Development, ispace, inc.

Moderator: Frank Jannuzi, President and CEO, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation

This event is made possible thanks to the Center for Global Partnership (CGP), and primary sponsorship of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum is provided by Boeing, IHI Aerospace, L3Harris Technologies, Mitsubishi Electric Corp (MELCO), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Japan, and NEC. The Mansfield Foundation is grateful to Congressman Ami Bera as the Capitol Hill sponsor for this event.

U.S.-Japan Space Forum Members Participate in July 2018 Comprehensive Dialogue on Space

U.S.-Japan Space Forum Members Participate in July 2018 Comprehensive Dialogue on Space

At least three alumni of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum were among the participants in this year’s government-level U.S.-Japan Comprehensive Dialogue on Space. The Comprehensive Dialogue, which is co-chaired by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Space Policy Secretariat, and Cabinet Office, and the U.S. National Space Council and U.S. National Security Council, is a government-to-government forum for exchanging views on civil, commercial, and national security areas of bilateral space cooperation. Among those participating in the meeting were several alumni of the Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Space Forum, including John Mittleman (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory) Scott Pace (U.S. National Space Council), and Sean Wilson (U.S. Department of State, and alumni of the 21st class of the Mike Mansfield Fellowship Program). Other Mansfield-affiliated participants in the Dialogue included John Hill (Principal Director for Space Policy, U.S. Department of Defense) and Nate Purdy (Senior FAA Representative, Pacific Rim, Federal Aviation Administration), alumni of the 1st and 17th classes of Mansfield Fellows, respectively.

The joint statement from the Comprehensive Dialogue is available in English and Japanese on the websites of the Department of U.S. State and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Meeting 6, Washington, D.C., February 2018

Meeting 6, Washington, D.C., February 2018

The sixth meeting of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum in Washington last week concluded with a public seminar that met one of the group’s key goals — facilitating communication between the science and space policy communities and the security, armed services, and foreign policy communities. The February 1 public seminar, “Space in the Abe-Trump Era: New Threats, New Actors” provided a platform for members of the Space Forum to discuss the importance of U.S.-Japan collaboration on space with Japanese policy expert Sheila Smith (Council on Foreign Relations) and defense policy expert and alumni Mansfield Fellow John Hill (U.S. Department of Defense) (pictured above with Space Forum members Masao Akiyama (IHI, Inc.), Hideshi Kozawa (GPAS), and Mansfield Foundation President and CEO Frank Jannuzi. The seminar also examined the emergence of new space technologies and actors and the challenges of reforming the legal and regulatory ecosystem to accommodate these developments. The seminar concluded with a keynote address by former assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance Frank Rose (Aerospace Corporation). Mr. Rose’s remarks on the Trump administration’s approach to the development of norms for outer space were covered in a February 2 article in SpaceNews. The seminar was co-hosted by the George Washington University Space Policy Institute and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership. The Space Forum’s meetings earlier in the week included a working lunch with Representative Ami Bera, Ranking Member, Space Committee, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (pictured above).

Meeting 5, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Tokyo, March 2017

A series of private meetings and public seminars in Kyoto, Nagoya, and Tokyo last week provided opportunities for members of the U.S.-Japan Space Forum to hear from emerging and established players in Japan’s space industry and to share thoughts on U.S.-Japan space cooperation in the Trump-Abe era. In Kyoto, members of the Space Forum met with four of Japan’s most prominent “space entrepreneurs,” leaders of emerging space industry companies iSpace Technologies, Inc., Axel Space, Astroscale, and PD Aerospace — before speaking at a public seminar at Kyoto University. Guest speakers at the March 6 seminar in Kyoto included U.S. Consul General in Osaka Allen Greenberg and Hiroshi Nakanishi (Kyoto University). On March 7, Space Forum members heard perspectives from the Nagoya aerospace community, including representatives of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, MHI Launch Services, and the Institute for Space-Earth Environmental Research at Nagoya University. That day a public seminar at Nagoya University featured guest speakers Stephen Kovacsics (U.S. Consulate General, Nagoya) and Hiroyasu Tajima (Nagoya University). On March 8 the group began their day in Tokyo by exchanging views with academics, journalists and officials focused on security and foreign policy at a roundtable hosted by the Graduate Institute for Policy Studies. Following a lunch conversation with nine members of the Japanese Diet, hosted by Lower House member Keitaro Ohno (pictured above), the group concluded its Japan meeting with a public seminar at the America Center Japan (pictured below), where Space Forum members were joined by the Director General of the National Space Policy Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, Shuzo Takada, and the U.S. Embassy’s NASA Attaché, Chris Blackerby.

This latest gathering of the Forum, it’s fifth, helped the group integrate views from emerging and other space industry experts outside Tokyo into its assessment of opportunities for bilateral and multilateral space-related activities. Primary sponsorship for the U.S.-Japan Space Forum is provided by Boeing, IHI Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi Electric (MELCO), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Corporation, NEC, and Raytheon. The March meetings were also supported by Kyoto University, Nagoya University, J.R. Central, and the U.S. Embassy Japan

George Washington University Space Policy Institute-Mansfield Foundation Public Seminar, September 2016

George Washington University Space Policy Institute-Mansfield Foundation Public Seminar, September 2016

Karen Makishima, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, joined members of the Mansfield Foundation U.S.-Japan Space Forum for a discussion on bilateral space collaboration on September 9th 2016. The event, a public seminar co-hosted by the Mansfield Foundation and the George Washington University Space Policy Institute, highlighted the rollout of the Forum’s Recommendations for the Japan-U.S. Comprehensive Dialogue. Dr. Makishima, a former Cabinet Office Vice Minister, and a leading voice on norms-setting in space activities, discussed the significance of space within Japan’s broader priorities, and the important role of U.S.-Japan space collaboration (pictured here). The September 9 seminar also invited comments from members of the broader defense and space policy communities in Washington, D.C. and Tokyo, who shared perspectives on space in American defense strategy, opportunities for advancing multilateral collaboration on space, and the intersection of the space private and public sectors. The public event followed a series of targeted outreach meetings over the preceding weeks, featuring discussions in Tokyo and Washington with U.S. congressional offices and members of Japan’s Diet and government.

2014 Founding Participants

Masao Akiyama, IHI Aerospace Co., Ltd.
Setsuko Aoki, Keio University
Shoichiro Asada, MHI
Frank Jannuzi, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation (Co-Chair)
Ed Jew, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
Koichi Kishi, NEC
Hiroshi Koyama, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
Hideshi Kozawa, NEC
Ronald Lopez, Boeing
Peter Marquez, Planetary Resources
John Mittleman, Maritime Domain Awareness
Robert Morrissey, Raytheon
Scott Pace, George Washington University
Saadia Pekkanen, University of Washington (Co-Chair)
Ryan Shaffer, Mansfield Foundation (Program Director)
Sheila Smith, Council on Foreign Relations
Masakazu Toyoda, Institute of Energy Economics Japan
Hiroshi Yamakawa, Kyoto University

Participants: Standing committee of American and Japanese space policy experts and officials (founding members listed below)

Sponsors: IHI, MHI, NEC, MELCO, Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Mansfield Foundation

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