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Japanese eye Tie-up for satellite network

Public and private groups will develop Japan’s 1st multi-nation system. The public and private sectors are joining hands to develop the nation’s first next-generation communication satellite network to cover the entire Asia-Pacific region.

The aim of the 100-billion-yen project is to bridge the gap between Japan on the one hand and the United States and Europe on the other, where the satellite business, especially in the military, is streets ahead of Japan.

A satellite business research group will be formed by the end of this month to undertake domestic and international market surveys and to compile a report outlining the roles of the public and private sectors. Asian countries will be invited to participate.

The group will be charged with sending three satellites into orbit to form a communications network to cover, among others, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Southeast Asia and Australia.

The three satellites will be set in orbit with at least one always at its zenith so interruptions in radio waves caused by skyscrapers or mountains are minimal.

Experts also expect the satellites to assist communication during natural disasters and enhance high-speed Internet and cellular phone connections.

The satellites also could be used to beam more accurate information on, say, traffic jams to so-called Intelligent Transportation Systems, such as electronic vehicle navigation systems, using Global Positioning System technology.

The margin of error in such cases is estimated to be reduced from several tens of meters to just several meters.

The project, which will get under way by the end of this month, will involve about 20 big-name companies, including Toyota Motor Corp., NTT DoCoMo, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Hitachi Ltd., NEC Corp., Toshiba Corp., Tokyo Electric Power Co. and Zenrin Co. with the National Space Development Agency of Japan from the public sector.