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Japan to launch missile defense satellite

The technology can be used to monitor North Korea missile launches.

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan to launch missile defense satellite
Tokyo is to launch a missile defense satellite on Jan. 24 to detect North Korea projectiles. File Photo by KCNA

Japan is planning to launch a missile defense satellite next Tuesday to upgrade the country's surveillance network that can detect and track North Korea missile launches.

The satellite will be launched from Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture, NHK reported on Tuesday.

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The satellite Japan's self-defense forces will be launching is mainly for ballistic missile defense. It is likely the satellite is a countermeasure to North Korea's developing missile capability, according to the report.

The step is also being taken as Japan's SDF is shouldering more responsibilities, in line with security legislation ratified in 2015.

In December, Japan's military was allowed for the first time to use firearms and other weapons in peacekeeping missions in South Sudan.

Japanese law now allows its military to serve in overseas missions whenever it or a close ally is attacked.

After it is launched, the new satellite could exchange large amounts of data at high speeds among military units, including launch information and videos from overseas bases, according to the report.

X-band satellite communication, capable of transmitting and receiving large amounts of data reliably, will be used among military units deployed across different areas, because X-band communication is not easily affected by weather or terrain.

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The new satellite is named Kirameki No. 2. Another satellite was originally scheduled to launch on July 1, 2016, but was damaged while in transit and the launch was canceled, according to NHK.

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