Japan - Signals Intelligence
The Ministry of Defense has been monitoring military communication radio waves passing over Japan’s territory and other kinds of radio waves, including those transmitted from weapons systems, but the scope of monitoring is currently limited due to the nature of radio waves and other factors.
The JASDF has several organisations involved in the collection and processing of ELINT – including Air Information Units, of which Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are at Maruyama, Nemuro and Okishiri in Hokkaido, other ELINT units associated with BADGE (Base Air Defence Ground Environment) early warning and air defence stations, and ELINT ground stations responsible for processing and analysis of ELINT collected by the ASDF’s SIGINT/ELINT aircraft. Construction of another JASDF ELINT/COMINT collection station began on Miyako-jima in October 2006.
Radio wave information gathering satellites are supposed to be possessed by the US, Russia, and other countries, and are regarded as being effective, but the circumstances of their operation has not been made clear.
For the monitoring of radio waves, it is necessary to establish a standing monitoring system against the target area in times of peace in order to meet the needs of constant surveillance and tracking on a daily basis. This will require considerable funds and manpower. Also, further study is needed to clarify the nature of radio waves transmitted through the ionosphere.
Concerning satellites with radio wave information gathering capability, the Ministry of Defense must confirm the efficacy of its use by conducting studies on technological feasibility, collectable radio wave information, and other matters, after fully examining its comparative advantage and division of roles with alternative means, as well as its cost effectiveness and other points of concern. To this end, the Ministry will seek scientific elucidation of radio wave properties in space under the interactive, concerted effort of the government as a whole.
The Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have been conducting warning and surveillance on a continuous basis in the sea and air spaces surrounding Japan, using vessels, airplanes, ground facilities, etc. However, more seamless warning and surveillance capabilities will be required for effective response to new threats and diverse contingencies.
The use of satellites may bolster Japan’s warning and surveillance capabilities, but there remains a number of technical challenges for high-resolution and seamless monitoring over a wide area. Consideration is needed from the viewpoints of urgency of need, technical hurdles, alternatives (division of roles with unmanned aerial vehicles [UAV], etc.), and cost effectiveness.
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