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Aiming to build a research center of excellence in Space Law

-Professor Kinji Akashi, Department of Law, Faculty of Law
President of the Center for Space Law (Institute of Space Law)

Update:Nov. 25, 2014

Keio University’s Center for Space Law (Institute of Space Law) was established in April 2012 in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), as one of the Keio Advanced Research Centers.
When you hear the words “space” and “JAXA,” it may remind you of the important activities of Japanese astronauts in the International Space Station, or the dramatic return of the unmanned spacecraft Hayabusa, which brought back with it samples from an asteroid, and may only bring up images of science technology and adventure. However, in reality, activities in space are conducted under certain rules and we even have legal principles called “Space Law” to maintain such order.
These legal principles were primarily international laws, such as the Outer Space Treaty, but enactment of domestic laws have increased to handle aspects of public law, and furthermore, as private space activities have become realistic endeavors, domestic laws have been enacted that cover issues of private law. Besides these, there are also many international soft laws that are positioned differently from treaties or common laws.
The Center for Space Law was established to research such legal principles and aims at achieving the following four objectives: (1) to examine the legal aspects of and to offer solutions to various issues concerning activities in space; (2) to improve Japan’s level of research in the field of Space Law; (3) to foster researchers and practitioners who specialize in Space Law; and (4) to contribute to developing competency in the area of Space Law in Asian countries.
To achieve the above objectives, we are engaged in the following activities. Firstly, at the core of our research activity, every year we define specific topics of research and form research groups consisting of researchers and practitioners from both within and outside the university, who take each research topic and put together a written report. Secondly, in order to present our research results, and for educational purposes, we hold various seminars and symposiums, publish the Handbook on Space Law, and digitally archive Space Law-related documents from Japan and abroad. In addition, we established the Special Course on Space Law within the Graduate School of Law. (Three inaugural members of the course obtained Master of Laws in March 2014.) We also hosted the Asia Pacific Regional Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition in June 2013. In this way, aiming at human resource development in the field of Space Law, we engage in the education of students and young researchers as well as developing research environments for them.
Moving forward, we plan to conduct even broader research, namely investigating various countries’ domestic laws related to activities in space, including comparative law.

*This article appeared in the 2014 summer edition (No.283) of “Juku”.