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Japan's First Military Satellite Launched as Tensions Rise

Image: Japan's First Military Satellite Launched as Tensions Rise

An H-2A rocket carrying the Kirameki-2 military communication satellite lifts off successfully from Tanegashima Space Center in Minamitanegashima, Kagoshima Prefecture on Jan. 24, 2017. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images )

By    |   Wednesday, 25 Jan 2017 08:24 AM

Japan's first military communication satellite was launched Tuesday from Kagoshima Prefecture as tensions continued to rise between the country and China.

The Kirameki-2 defense communication satellite was launched into orbit at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tanegashima Space Center, Kyodo News noted. The satellite is one of three defense satellites that will replace civilian satellites in use by its Self-Defense Forces now.

Japan's defense ministry officials have said new satellites will improve direct communication among units of its ground, maritime and air Self-Defense Forces through a high-speed and high-capacity network amid increased North Korean missile activity and potential threats to the nation's remote islands, according to Kyodo News.

Japan and China are currently sparring over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, Reuters reported. The countries are disputing the exploitation of gas fields that straddle exclusive economic zones claimed by both.

Japan scrambled fighter jets against Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese airspace 644 times from April to December last year, almost double the 373 times a year earlier, Japan's Ministry of Defense announced Friday.

China's first aircraft carrier, the Soviet-built Liaoning, was accompanied by several warships as it sailed through the passage between the Japanese Southwestern islands of Mikado and Okinawa and into the Pacific in December, according to Reuters.

At the time, China described the movement as routine military exercises.

The Kirameki-1 satellite was scheduled to lift off last July, but was damaged during transport to a launch pad in French Guiana, The Associated Press reported. The satellite is set to be launched in 2018 after it is repaired.

The third military satellite, the Kirameki-3, is planned to launch at the end of fiscal 2020, according to Kyodo News.

Japan officials said that Kirameki-2 will be positioned over the Indian Ocean and used by its forces taking part in United Nations peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and anti-piracy efforts off Somalia.

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Japan's first military communication satellite was launched Tuesday from Kagoshima Prefecture as tensions continued to rise between the country and China.
japan, military, satellite, launched
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2017-24-25
Wednesday, 25 Jan 2017 08:24 AM
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