Japan to fuel space startups with nearly $1bn funding pool
Nikkei -- Mar 20
Japan aims to speed space startups toward the final frontier by offering monetary aid from a pool of 100 billion yen ($940 million), as well as creating a human resource hub and weighing a legal path for commercial development on the moon.

The government will offer investments and loans over half a decade starting from fiscal 2018. Japan laid out a space business vision this fiscal year, aiming to double the scale of the sector to about 2.4 trillion yen by the early 2030s.

The country has been investing in more space startups in recent years, including Tokyo's Ispace, which aims to develop lunar resources; the Singapore-based but Japan-linked space debris cleaning company Astroscale; and iQPS, a miniature satellite developer based in the southern city of Fukuoka. But the candidates number less than 20 and have generally received just billions or hundreds of millions of yen, leaving Japan trailing competitors such as the U.S.

Under the initiative to be announced Tuesday, nascent startups will be eligible for aid of up to 10 million yen each to cover costs like research and patent applications. Companies that show promise of bringing products or services to market will be introduced to investors and venture capitalists. Those at the development stage will be able to draw from the 100 billion yen pool offered through bodies including the Development Bank of Japan and the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, a public-private investment fund.

An agency will be set up to connect startups short on professional talent with seasoned rocket scientists and systems operators from the likes of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The government will also consider devising laws and policies to let businesses own plots of land they develop on the moon. Commercial development and land ownership on the moon are not forbidden under the Outer Space Treaty, a United Nations document dating to 1967, but Japanese businesses have had difficulty advancing on that front due to complicated standards. Japan probably will draft laws on the American model.

U.S. government bodies have cultivated some of the country's many space-related startups with subsidies and tax breaks. Rocket company Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX -- headed by Elon Musk, the entrepreneur behind electric vehicle maker Tesla -- is said to have received subsidies in the hundreds of millions or billions of dollars for development.

News source: Nikkei
Sep 20
A Japanese district court has found all three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company not guilty in the only criminal prosecution stemming from the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima. (NHK)
Sep 20
An online streaming service designed for the more than 400,000 overseas visitors expected here over the next two months for the Rugby World Cup was launched this week by J SPORTS, one of the three broadcast rights holders in Japan. (Japan Times)
Sep 20
A growing number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has helped push up commercial land prices throughout the country. (NHK)
Sep 20
E-commerce giant Amazon Japan has announced it will launch a locker delivery service called Amazon Hub at the major convenience store chain FamilyMart and train stations along the Odakyu line. (Japan Today)
Sep 19
If you’ve studied the basics of computer programming, you’ll probably recognize the phrase “hello world.” It’s the textbook-recommended line of text learners type into their first program, then delight as it pops up on screen. (Japan Times)
Sep 19
The operator of a private-sector English proficiency test began accepting applications Wednesday for its tests that will serve as a component of Japan’s new standardized university entrance exam. (Japan Times)
Sep 19
Newly appointed Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Wednesday that Tokyo urgently demands Seoul eliminate “violations of international law” regarding wartime Korean labor issues, adding that it is a top priority for Japan in handling the bilateral relationship. (Japan Times)
Sep 18
Japan may be ready to host a "spectacular Rugby World Cup," but serious questions remained Tuesday as to what impact it will have on the nation, particularly with the Tokyo Olympics just a year away. (Kyodo)
Sep 18
The mother of Yua Funato was given an eight-year prison term by the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday for parental neglect that led to the death last year of her 5-year-old daughter. (Japan Times)
Sep 18
Japan's government is expected to nominate former vice finance minister Masatsugu Asakawa to head the Asian Development Bank. (NHK)