The Japanese Diet passed the Space Resources Act on June 15, 2021 and the Act came into force on December 23, 2021.
The Act allows persons (including private entities) to explore, extract and use “space resources” meaning water, minerals and other natural resources that exist in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies.
Under the Act, a person who intends to obtain a license (which is stipulated in Article 20, paragraph (1) of Space Activity Act) for the control of spacecraft which is exercised over a spacecraft for the purpose of the exploration and development of space resources (such license is defined as the “License for the Exploration and Development of Space Resources”) is required, when applying for the license from the Japanese government, to submit a “business activity plan” which shall include the purpose, the term, the place, the methods and the content of the exploration activity etc., to the government.
The Act allows a person who conducts business activities related to the exploration and development of space resources to acquire the ownership of space resources that have been mined, etc. in accordance with the business activity plan pertaining to the license by possessing the space resources with the intention to own.
Under the Act, in principle, in order to promote business activities related to the exploration and development of space resources under international cooperation and contribute to the prevention of disputes related to the exploration and development of space resources, the Prime Minister, when a License for the Exploration and Development of Space Resources has been granted, shall give public notice thereof and of the name of the person who obtained the license etc. without delay via the Internet or by other appropriate means.
On November 4, 2022, the Cabinet Office announced that it granted the first License for the Exploration and Development of Space Resources to ispace, inc. for its first lunar landing mission.
Applying for a Permission Related to the Launching of Spacecraft, etc. and License Related to the Control of Spacecraft – Cabinet Office Home Page (cao.go.jp)
For the tentative English translation of ispace’s business activity plan, please refer to
For the tentative English translation of the Space Resources Act, please refer to
For the English translation of the Space Activity Act, please refer to
Act on Launching of Spacecraft, etc. and Control of Spacecraft (Act No. 76 of 2016) (cao.go.jp)
Tetsuji Odan (大段 徹次), a member of JSLA and an attorney at Mori Hamada & Matsumoto
(Source of photo: ispace (ispace-inc.com))