Japan on 24 January 2017 launched its first military communications satellite Kirameki-2 to boost the broadband capacity of its armed forces with an aim to reinforce its presence at the southern edge of the East China Sea.
The satellite was launched through Mistubishi H-IIA rocket from southern-most islands of Japan, an area in which Tokyo and Beijing have clashed over the gas-rich East China Sea.
Kirameki-2 is one of three planned X-band satellites that will allow communications across wider territory. It has a lifespan of 15 years. It was built by DSN Corporation for the Japanese Ministry of Defence.
The Kirameki-1 satellite was damaged in 2016 during transportation to the launch site and is expected to be launched in March 2018. On the other hand, Kirameki-3 is intended to be launched in 2021.
The country expects to send three X-band satellites into orbit over the coming years in order to quadruple the country’s broadband capacity.
Usually, analysts and spectators keep an eye on the South China Sea but the East China Sea is little less controversial than the former.
East China Sea has generated some political tensions due to a group of five tiny uninhabited islands which are claimed by Japan as well as China. Moreover, these islands are claimed by Taiwan too. These islands are called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu by China.
Japan, the main US ally in Asia, is worried due to the recent increase in Chinese military activity in the East China Sea. In the nine months ranging from April to December, Japan scrambled fighter jets to counter these Chinese aircraft approaching Japanese airspace 644 times.
Both the countries are also at odds over the exploitation of gas fields that overlap the exclusive economic zones which are also claimed by both the sides.
When: 24 January 2017