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Japan is shifting its space program toward potential military uses in a new policy hailed on Friday as a "historic turning point" by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to strengthen defense and boost exports. The move comes as emerging powers such as China and India join the United States to expand space activities for commercial and security purposes. Last year, Abe eased a postwar curb on arms exports and on allowing troops to fight overseas, as part of a more robust military and diplomatic posture for Japan. "We've managed to compile a long-term and specific plan that fully takes into account our new security policy," Abe told a meeting of his ministers. "As the key principle of our space policy, this is something that marks a historic turning point." The new measures will see Tokyo increase its fleet of global-positioning satellites to seven over the next decade, up from one now, to make Japan independent of other countries for uses from navigating vehicles to guiding weapons systems. Japan will also step up the number of its information gathering satellites, which collect pictures of vessels and military facilities and measure sea surface temperatures for submarine detection, from four now.
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