Japan launches intelligence-gathering satellite to monitor North Korea and improve disaster response

On Thursday, Japan successfully launched a rocket carrying a government intelligence-gathering satellite on a mission to monitor military sites in North Korea and improve natural disaster response. The H2A rocket, developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, successfully lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center in southwestern Japan, carrying the IGS-Radar 7 reconnaissance satellite as part of Japan’s efforts to build up its military capabilities and address growing threats in East Asia.

The IGS-Radar 7 satellite is capable of capturing images on the ground 24 hours a day, even in severe weather conditions. Japan launched the IGS program after a North Korean missile flyover in 1988 and aims to establish a network of 10 satellites to spot and provide early warning for possible missile launches. The satellites can also be used for disaster monitoring and response.

“The government will maximize the use of IGS-Radar 7 and other reconnaissance satellites to do the utmost for Japan’s national security and crisis management,” said Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a statement.

Kishida’s government adopted a new national security strategy in December, which includes possessing long-range cruise missiles as a “counterstrike” capability, breaking from the country’s exclusively self-defense-only postwar principle. This move was motivated by the rapid advancements in weapons technology in China and North Korea.

Experts suggest that possible counterstrikes aimed at preempting enemy attacks would require significant

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