But not I'm not so confident of the assessment. Sure, they've got some wacky cultural surprises (Japscat? Eeesh), but generally the Japanese employ wisdom and elegance in their endeavors. So, why would they jump on the same wasteful space exploration initiative as the U.S.? Why take two decades to go to the moon, when they could go straight to Mars in half that time?

Our political leaders need to recognize the merits of a human Mars exploration program, and they need to set the goal of accomplishing serious scientific research on Mars.