JAXA starts accepting applications for new Japanese astronauts

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide speaks during an online press conference on Dec. 3 after his half-year stay aboard the International Space Station. Hoshide is one of Japan’s seven currently active astronauts.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) started accepting applications for new Japanese astronauts on Monday. Applications will be accepted until March 4. A small number of candidates will be selected around February 2023 after various tests, including English.

This is the first recruitment of Japanese astronauts for JAXA in 13 years. This time, JAXA has substantially relaxed the eligibility requirements, including abolishing academic background requirements, while it previously emphasized a four-year university degree in a natural sciences field.

There is a possibility that new astronauts will be assigned to lunar exploration missions in the U.S.-led Artemis international lunar exploration project, in which Japan is taking part.