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Japan To Launch Military-Purpose Satellites

Japan reached the decision as in the wake of North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket early this month.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (KNS) May 01, 2009
The Japanese government could launch an early warning satellite that can detect missile launches abroad by 2013. It also wants to increase the number of reconnaissance satellites from the current three to four.

The Strategic Headquarters for Space Policy of the Japanese Cabinet Office finalized a five-year space policy plan Monday.

"For the first time, it is stipulated in writing that space technology can be used for national defense," the Nihon Keizai Shimbun wrote. Military use of technology is an unusually sensitive subject in Japan because of its pacifist postwar Constitution.

Discussion on introducing an early warning satellite failed to make progress due to the huge cost of some 500 billion yen (approximately W7 trillion) per satellite. But Japan reached the decision as in the wake of North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket early this month. Tokyo had relied on the U.S. for information about the rocket launch.

Japan also shifted goals to putting space technology to commercial use, the daily reported. Under the new plan, it will launch a total of 34 satellites between 2009 and 2013, double the number it launched over the past five years. Japan aims to expand the market for its satellites, including for GPS and natural disaster monitoring services.

The space plan also includes the launch of an unmanned lunar probe around 2020.

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