Japan on Sunday became the No. 3 nation in terms of number of days its astronauts have spent in space, behind Russia and the United States.

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TOKYO — Japan on Sunday became the No. 3 nation in terms of number of days its astronauts have spent in space, behind Russia and the United States.

According to data collected by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, nine Japanese astronauts spent a combined total of 494 days in space as of Sunday, overtaking the 493-day total of 10 German astronauts.

Russia is in first place with 20,760 days shared between 104 astronauts, while the United States has sent 331 astronauts into space for 14,786 days.

The nine Japanese astronauts include Toyohiro Akiyama, 69, who in 1990 became the first Japanese in space. Akiyama, then a TV reporter, traveled into space aboard a Soyuz spacecraft of the former Soviet Union.

Satoshi Furukawa, 47, is now staying at the international space station on a long-term mission.

Japan space official Teruhisa Tsujino said, “China ranks 12th with 20 days spent in space, but that total could rise quickly as China has plans to build its own space station.”