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Japan Launches Spy Satellite to Monitor North Korea

Japan has successfully launched its own intelligence-gathering satellite to monitor the military activities of North Korea.

Called the Optical-8, the space asset was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan using a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries H2A rocket.

In an announcement after the launch, the Japanese government said the satellite successfully separated from the rocket and entered its planned orbit.

It will be capable of capturing detailed images of military sites in North Korea, though its capability is limited in severe weather conditions.

Tokyo’s satellite intelligence center official Hiroki Yasuda said it will take several months before the Optical-8 can begin supplying information.

Reinforcing Intelligence Capability

Japan’s launch comes as tensions in the Indo-Pacific rise, with North Korea and China continuing to assert their military power.

In November 2023, Pyongyang announced that it had successfully launched a reconnaissance satellite and was able to take photos of the Pentagon.

Yasuda said Japan’s satellite launch is crucial to the country’s intelligence-gathering capability.

“With the security environment surrounding Japan becoming increasingly severe and uncertain and growing natural disaster risks, intelligence satellites are crucial for foreign affairs, defense, and security as well as disaster response purposes,” he said.

“We need to steadily reinforce our intelligence capability.”

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