The launch of the rocket, carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite, by Japan is on a mission to observe movements at military sites in North Korea and to enhance the response to natural disasters.
On January 12, 2024, Japan launched a rocket carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite to observe military movements in North Korea. The rocket, named H2A, was launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan. H2A carried the optical satellite as part of Tokyo’s surveillance efforts to build up its military capabilities.
The satellite is capable of acquiring images in extreme weather conditions. The process of deploying intelligence-gathering satellites began in 1988, following an incident where a North Korean missile flew over Japan. The aim was to create a network of ten satellites capable of locating and sending early warning signals for missiles that are likely to be launched.
The government under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, which adopted the national security strategy in 2022, is working towards deploying U.S.-made Tomahawk long-range cruise missiles. The push to deploy these missiles is estimated to begin as early as the upcoming year, aiming to build an offensive capability. This marks a departure from the country’s post-war policy of exclusive self-defense. This shift is in response to the advancements in weapon technology by China and North Korea.
Friday’s launch was carried out by Mitsubishi Heavy and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. In this planned launch, the new flagship H3, succeeding the H2A, was set to take off. Although the first flight test of the rocket failed, it did not deter them from trying once more.
With the successful launch this time around, Masayuki Eguchi, who is in charge of the defense system and the space segment, stated that with the successful launch on January 12, they are looking forward to February 15 for the launch of the H3.
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