Disaster Or Opportunity?
When a violent oceanic earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami hit the north-east coast of Japan earlier this year it was no doubt a reminder to the Japanese people of just how vulnerable they are. While earthquakes aren't new there, this one seemed to do more damage than most of the previous quakes in recent history. But the Japanese people are resilient and adaptable. It's not the first time they've had to deal with a devastating natural disaster and perhaps no event compares to the devastation of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki near the end of World War II. Just like then, now the Japanese people will work together to help in the recovery process. Some estimate the recovery time may be a decade.
It has been speculated that Japan will be the first nation, either alone or jointly with the European Space Agency(ESA), to establish a mining colony on the moon. This latest disaster may be just the impetus for the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency or JAXA to start pouring more money into such programs as moon colonization. Currently funded at just under $2.5 billion annually, this amount may grow considerably over the next several years.
Ever since WW2 Japan has become a major manufacturing force in the world. It is ranked third in the world, but the two things that it lacks are space(no pun intended) and raw materials. So Japan had been expanding it's manufacturing capability by setting up factories throughout Asia, and South America. But it still relies on raw materials from other countries; and while relations between Japan and China are civil at the moment, that may change.
Mining the moon potentially provides all the materials needed to manufacture space technology in space. Recently JAXA has taken part in experiments on the International Space Station(ISS), and are testing their own launch vehicles. They are also developing transfer vehicles with the ambition to become a key transporter of supplies to the ISS. To continue to be a major economy in the world(and galaxy) it has to expand, and space is the next logical step. However, there is another reason why Japan should look heavenward. Keeping some of your assets off-world is good insurance in case your financial center back on earth is struck by disaster. Again.
While the recent economic recession had hit the US and Europe the hardest, Japan's economy, the March disaster aside, has been relatively stable. Perhaps this may be a good time to seize the opportunity their economic lead has provided and start looking toward the skies.