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Japan successfully launches satellite to monitor North Korea's military activities

Japan successfully launches satellite to monitor North Korea's military activities Illustrative photo (Photo:
Author: Daria Shekina

Japan has successfully launched a rocket with a satellite designed for collecting reconnaissance information. The satellite will monitor the movement of military objects in North Korea, reports Associated Press.

The H2A rocket was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on the southwestern coast of Japan. At the end of the operation, the Optical-8 satellite successfully separated from the rocket and entered the planned orbit.

The optical satellite is capable of capturing detailed images, although its capabilities are somewhat limited in complex weather conditions.

Japan initiated a program to develop satellites for collecting reconnaissance information after a North Korean missile flew over the country in 1998. The goal is to create a network of 10 satellites, including those with radar, capable of operating at night or in harsh weather conditions. This will help detect and warn the country of possible missile launches.

"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... We need to steadily reinforce our intelligence capability," said Hiroki Yasuda, a high-ranking official at the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center.

Yasuda added that it would take several more months to gather information.

According to the national security strategy adopted in 2022, the government of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida insists on deploying American Tomahawk cruise missiles and other long-range cruise missiles next year to enhance strike capabilities.

North Korea's military activity

North Korea regularly claims its "indisputable status as a nuclear state" and conducts regular ballistic missile launches toward the East and Yellow Seas.

On December 18, there were reports of North Korea allegedly launching a short-range ballistic missile towards the East Sea. A few hours later, Pyongyang conducted its second missile test.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and South Korea are working on a joint nuclear defense strategy to create an integrated deterrence system against North Korea's nuclear weapons by the middle of next year.