Asia-Pacific

Japan spy satellite to monitor North Korea

Japan has put another satellite into orbit to gather intelligence for national security purposes.

Japan and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have put its latest spy satellite into orbit to monitor military facilities in North Korea.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Mitsubishi Heavy launched an H-2A rocket carrying the government's Information Gathering Satellite Radar 6 from the Tanegashima Space Centre on the southern island of Tanegashima, about 1000km southwest of Tokyo.

The satellite separated from the rocket about 20 minutes later after Tuesday's launch and reached orbit, broadcaster NHK reported.

The launch was postponed on Monday due to bad weather.

The government will also use the satellite to take photos of affected areas during natural disasters.

The spy satellite program was developed and introduced after a missile test-fired from North Korea in 1998 flew over Japan's mainland, causing fears in Tokyo.

Pyongyang has ramped up its nuclear and missile programs under leader Kim Jong Un, carrying out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test in September and launching about 20 ballistic missiles last year alone.

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