May The UAE’s Ascent Continue Forever


Akio Isomata Ambassador of Japan to the UAE shares his thoughts on the journey of UAE-Japan relations and wishes a successful outcome to the Emirates Lunar Mission on the occasion of the launch of the Rashid Rover

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Published: Wed 30 Nov 2022, 6:39 PM

We have long waited for this day to come. The Emirates Lunar Mission is another great milestone in the UAE’s path of space exploration endeavour. I am so happy and proud that Japan is part of this monumental mission. I would like to commend the UAE Space Agency and the MBR Space Centre, and all those who have worked so hard to make this dream project come true.

Japan has been engaged in the UAE’s endeavour in space from its early stage. In 2016, the UAE Space Agency and Japan’s space-related government offices signed a Memorandum of Cooperation, and JAXA also partnered with the UAE Space Agency, establishing a solid basis of Japan-UAE space cooperation. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata was appointed as a member of the UAE Space Agency’s advisory committee, and has been providing policy and technical advice to the UAE.

For concrete collaboration projects, there was the launching of the first Emirati-built satellite Khalifa Sat in 2018 by HII — A rocket by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. Our memory is still fresh of the launching of Hope Probe in July 2020, also by Japan’s HII. Hope Probe successfully entered the orbit of Mars in February 2021, with the UAE becoming the fifth country in the world to accomplish this remarkable mission, and it has unearthed many new discoveries about Mars ever since.

Using Japan’s experiment laboratory ‘Kibo’, which means ‘Hope’ in Japanese, at the International Space Station (ISS), Japan has collaborated with many countries in conducting scientific experiments in outer space. In 2019, the first Emirati astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri, conducted an educational experiment from Kibo, which was live-streamed to both the MBR Space Centre and Japan’s space centre with young Emirati students as its audience. Space is an area that provides dreams and hope to the next generation, and I hope that Japan can continue to contribute to space education in the future.

The year 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of establishment of Japan-UAE diplomatic relations. We are honoured to have had the visit to Japan by Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office in September. During the visit, the Joint Declaration on the Implementation of Japan-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative (CSPI) was signed, paving the way for promoting concrete cooperative projects in a wide variety of areas including space collaboration. With this G2G platform, consisting of a Ministerial Committee and five sub-committees to cover the whole spectrum of the bilateral relations, I believe that Japan-UAE space cooperation will enter a new stage.

I could not be happier to see that within this celebratory year, the Emirates Lunar Mission is making a giant leap forward with the landing of the Rashid Rover on the moon surface soon, and to see as well that the lander that will carry the Rashid Rover to the moon surface is Hakuto-R Mission 1, developed by ispace, a Japanese startup company. Noting that the Rashid Rover will carry the dreams and hopes of the UAE to the moon, let me say bon voyage the UAE, to the Moon!

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