Philippines, Japan sign space cooperation agreement

The Philippines and Japan has signed an agreement to promote space cooperation between the two countries. Japan is the first foreign space agency to sign a memorandum of cooperation with the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA).

Joel Joseph Marciano, the director-general of PhilSA, has signed the memorandum of cooperation (MOC) together with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President Yamakawa Hiroshi in a virtual ceremony on Friday, June 11.

"This agreement is an important framework for PhilSA and JAXA to formally explore the extent of cooperative work on space development activities that are of mutual interest and benefit on both sides," said Marciano.

The MOC provides a framework for potential cooperation in space applications, satellite development, space environment utilization, capacity building for space technology, policy ad legislation, space science and space exploration, and space industry promotion.

"Space technology is an indispensable tool toward socioeconomic development as it can greatly contribute to solving social issues on Earth such as disaster management, agriculture management, as well as the challenges of climate change," said Yamakawa.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Castillo Laurel V, who was present during the MOC signing, highlighted that the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Japan have been ongoing for the past 65 years, while the strategic partnership has been going on for the past 10 years.

"As the first country to sign the agreement with PhilSA, Japan will again be the transformative partner in the future. Already, we're working with JAXA, with various Japanese research institutions in the study and launch of various types of satellites," said Laurel.

"We look for the further application of space technology in achieving sustainable development by deepening access to data, information and technology for food security, health, disaster risk reduction management, prevention of human health crisis, management of natural resources, poverty reduction, maritime domain awareness, and defense of our territorial rights," he added.

Among the opportunities this MOC opens is for the Philippines and Japan to explore training and development of satellites together.

"We look forward to this agreement to expand opportunities for Filipino students to go to Japanese universities and do advanced studies similar to what has happened in the past in the development of microsatellites and nanosatellites. At the same time, we also look forward to opportunities for researchers from Japan and students to also come to our universities and facilities so that we have co-location and more people-to-people exchanges," Marciano said.

Interestingly, the Philippines and Japan have been working together in the field of satellite development, launch, and deployment. Just this year, the Philippines' Maya-2 nanosatellite was sent to space through JAXA. Other Philippine satellites, such as the Diwata-1, Diwata-2, and Maya-1 were also developed and completed with Japanese universities and JAXA.

Recently, PhilSA also signed an agreement with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) to deliver joint capacity-building activities to enhance the use of space science and technology for socioeconomic development. Marciano signed the memorandum of understanding in a virtual event on June 4 together with UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo.

"As a young space agency, we look to international partnerships and agreements as an important part of our mobilization and as a valuable means of accelerating our growth and development. We can learn many things from our neighbors' space programs, and from those that came before us, as we continue to build the local space ecosystem and strive to be a more active player in the global space economy," said Marciano.

Among the areas of collaboration for PhilSA and UNOOSA is the use of space-based information for disaster risk reduction and emergency response. 

UNOOSA and PhilSA will also work together on international space law and conduct joint public awareness and education outreach initiatives on the importance of space science and technology for socioeconomic development. – Rappler.com