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During an event hosted by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy at the agency's Headquarters in Washington Friday, representatives from the United States and Japan gathered to sign an agreement that builds on a long history of collaboration in space exploration between the two nations.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Hayashi Yoshimasa signed the agreement on behalf of the United States and Japan, respectively.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, front left, and Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hayashi Yoshimasa, front right, shake hands after signing an agreement that builds on a long history of collaboration in space exploration between the U.S. and Japan, Friday, Jan. 13, 2023, at the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters building in Washington. Also present were, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, left, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, second from left, and Prime Minister of Japan, His Excellency Kishida Fumio, right. “The Framework Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America for Cooperation in Space Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, For Peaceful Purposes” covers joint activities including space science, Earth science, space operations and exploration, aeronautical science and technology, space technology, space transportation, and safety and mission assurance, among others. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
"The future of space is collaborative," said Blinken. "Through this agreement, our nations have strengthened our partnership in space and here on Earth. We will go farther and learn even more together."
The signing is a highlight of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio's visit to Washington, his first since taking office in 2021.
"I expect this agreement to vigorously promote Japan-U.S. space cooperation and expand areas of cooperation for the Japan-U.S. alliance, which is stronger than ever before," said Kishida.
Among the other witnesses in attendance were U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, Japanese Ambassador to the U.S. Tomita Koji, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency President (JAXA) Yamakawa Hiroshi, and Deputy Assistant to the President and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council Chirag Parikh. NASA astronaut Anne McClain and JAXA astronaut Hoshide Akihiko also participated in the event.
"From low-Earth orbit to the Moon and beyond, Japan is one of NASA's most significant international partners, and this latest framework agreement will allow us to further collaborate across our agencies' broad portfolios in exploration, science, and research," said Nelson.
Known as the "Framework Agreement Between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States of America for Cooperation in Space Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, For Peaceful Purposes," this pact recognizes a mutual interest in peaceful exploration. It completes work from President Joe Biden's May 2022 visit to Japan and the September 2022 visit to Tokyo of Vice President Kamala Harris, chair of the National Space Council. Strengthening the space collaboration between the U.S. and Japan is a priority for both.
"This signing symbolizes not just the exploration of space, but also the partnership and the friendship between the United States and Japan," said Emanuel. "This is a new beginning."
The framework covers a broad swath of joint activities between the countries, including space science, Earth science, space operations and exploration, aeronautical science and technology, space technology, space transportation, safety and mission assurance, and much more.
"I hope that Japan-U.S. space cooperation will further deepen based on this agreement, as it will benefit the future of humanity," said Hayashi.
NASA and the Government of Japan finalized a previous agreement in November 2022 confirming Japan's contributions to Gateway as part of a commitment to long-term lunar exploration cooperation with NASA under the Artemis program. Japan also was one of the original signatories of the Artemis Accords.