Skip to main content

Already a subscriber? Make sure to log into your account before viewing this content. You can access your account by hitting the “login” button on the top right corner. Still unable to see the content after signing in? Make sure your card on file is up-to-date.

Japan has achieved a milestone by successfully launching an intelligence-gathering satellite aboard a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.-operated H2A rocket from the Tanegashima Space Center.

The Optical-8 satellite, a part of Tokyo’s initiative to augment its military capabilities and natural disaster response, was confirmed to have entered its planned orbit post-launch. This project, vital for Japan’s surveillance efforts, especially in monitoring North Korean military sites, originated after a North Korean missile flew over Japan in 1998.

2024 1$largeimg12 Jan 2024 133420190

Senior official Hiroki Yasuda from the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center emphasized the importance of the Optical-8 satellite in enhancing Japan’s information-gathering capacity. “With the security environment surrounding Japan becoming increasingly severe and uncertain and growing natural disaster risks, intelligence satellites are crucial for foreign affairs, defense and security as well as disaster response purposes,” Yasuda stated. He further noted the satellite’s role in reinforcing Japan’s intelligence capabilities, especially in light of recent natural disasters and the escalating security threats.

The Japanese government’s goal is to establish a network of 10 satellites, including those with radars functional at night or under harsh weather conditions, to detect and alert against potential missile launches.

This launch aligns with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government’s 2022 national security strategy, which includes deploying long-range missiles, like the US-made Tomahawk, to transition from Japan’s postwar self-defense-only policy. This strategy responds to the rapid advancements in weaponry by neighboring countries, including China, Russia, and North Korea.


Keep up to date with our latest videos, news and content