The Institute of Space and Aeronautics (ISAS), a research institute under the Japanese space agency JAXA, has reportedly imposed a ban on the admission of scientists from Russia and China, according to Kyodo news agency. The ban, part of new rules introduced last September, aims to safeguard sensitive data that could potentially be used for military purposes. JAXA declined to comment on the matter.
In line with its efforts to prevent foreign agencies from accessing technologies used in satellites and missiles, ISAS has also placed restrictions on researchers and students from countries including North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Belarus. Exceptions are made for China, India, and countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Researchers and students from these countries may engage in scientific work with the consent of the head of ISAS, but are restricted from accessing the engineering department. Conversely, researchers from the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany are permitted to apply in all fields of research. South Korea, Turkey, and South Africa, however, have restrictions on admission to the engineering department.
The ban does not impact individuals who were admitted to ISAS prior to the introduction of these new guidelines. Russia and China have been collaborating on various space projects, including an agreement with the Chinese National Space Administration for cooperation in space activities from 2023-2027. They aim to create a lunar research station and work on other projects, such as complementing global satellite navigation systems Glonass and BeiDou.
The Russian-Belarusian satellite (RBKA), a joint project between Russia and Belarus, is also underway. Set to be launched in 2028, the satellite will be used for remote sensing of the Earth and will offer images for sale to international entities, excluding countries such as Iran, North Korea, and China.
Multilateral cooperation in the space sector can have negative effects on regional stability, particularly as it enables the acquisition of new technologies that could be used in armed conflicts. This may lead to increased involvement from the United States and its allies to address the growing challenge.