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Business

Japan's space industry to get private-sector boost

Public-private enterprise to solicit ideas and finance promising projects

An H-2A rocket lifts off from the Tanegashima Space Center.

TOKYO -- The Japanese government and four companies, including major trading house Mitsui & Co. and construction company Obayashi, are teaming up to develop the country's space business.

Under the partnership, the government will solicit business ideas from the private sector and the companies will provide part of the financing needed to commercialize the ideas. Some 20 million yen ($180,000) is expected to be funded by the companies.

Japan's space business has hitherto relied on government funding. The latest arrangement comes as the government seeks to broaden Japan's space industry and companies explore new business opportunities. 

The Cabinet Office will set up a new award by this summer for technology and ideas that could potentially expand Japan's space industry. It hopes to commercialize them over the course of a few years.

Subsidies to help launch those businesses will be provided by the consortium -- comprising Mitsui, Obayashi, SKY Perfect JSAT and ANA Holdings -- rather than by the government.

Through the program, the consortium will have a chance to cooperate with companies possessing space technology and their engineers. It will also gain access to the Cabinet Office, which leads Japan's space policy, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. Such connections will help them launch new projects. 

The four companies have yet to decide on the exact amount of the fund or how to split the expenses between them.

Mitsui, which plans to contribute about 5 million yen, hopes to accumulate relevant know-how by helping engineers who have pitched their ideas to the government, such as analysis of satellite data and how to make use of such information.

(Nikkei)

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