Japan's government has revised its basic space policy so the country can take part in an international manned exploratory mission to the Moon.
The government held a meeting of its Strategic Headquarters for Space Development on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chaired the meeting, and Science and Technology Policy Minister Masaji Matsuyama also attended.
The panel decided to start discussions next year on how Japan can contribute its technological expertise to the lunar probe.
It also hopes to join the US in construction of an international space station orbiting the Moon. The United States plans to complete the space station by the late 2020s.
The revised space policy includes a plan for Japan's space agency, JAXA, and other institutions to start studying next April ways of launching an observation system for space debris.
They will also set up a new system for disclosing satellite-obtained images and data to private firms, with the hope of spurring new business ventures.