The Japan News is reporting that the Japanese Committee on the National Space Policy has compiled a draft proposal that includes increasing the number of quasi-zenith satellites (QZSS), Japan’s satellite navigation system, from the current single satellite to a total of four.
Currently, Japan is operating only one quasi-zenith satellite, named Michibiki.
The increase would be made to strengthen Japan’s overall surveillance systems, in light of developments such as China’s maritime expansion. “China’s high-pressure maritime advances have become a menace to the security of countries in Asia. Continued vigilance is also required against North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear weapons development program,” according an editorial published by The Japan News.
The additional QZSS satellites would presumably supplement Japan’s surveillance satellites with positioning information. Japan currently has four information-gathering satellites, which lack the flexibility to boost the accuracy of ground surveillance activities and swiftly grasp movements of objects such as vessels at sea.
“For surveillance activities, acquisition of high-precision positioning information using space technology is also important. Only the global positioning system (GPS) run by the United States is currently reliable for this purpose,” the editorial said.
A four-satellite QZSS system will allow positioning surveillance of all regions around the clock. Based on the proposal, the government is expected to revise the Basic Plan on Space Policy within the year.
The proposal also stipulates that the country should aim to operate seven quasi-zenith satellites as early as possible, which would allow stable management of the system, according to The Japan News.