Tensions on South China Sea and in North Korea are not without influence on the direction of development of Japanese space program. Japan announced about increasing fleet of spy satellites.
Japan began developing space reconnaissance program in 1998 after North Korea’s test missile fly over Japan. Recently radar and optical observation satellites were launched in 2011, 2013 and on 1st February 2015. It was not officially announced what are capabilities of satellites but according some sources, satellites are equipped with high resolution cameras and instruments providing ground observation capability in spite of clouds. Main goal of Japan is increasing number of spy satellites from four to ten. Second objective is designing own infra-red observation satellite and developing early warning system to 2019. Since now Japan was depend on information provided by U.S. Strategic Command only in case of detecting danger.
Japan space industry depends on public contracts and orders. Government would like to give impulse for further developing, with assumption of increasing participation of space industry in export. Reconnaissance and observation satellites could find potential customers in Asia. Still developed HII-A rocket is planned to be updated for F29 version for improved flexibility of upper stage for lifting more types of cargo. Also it is reliable launch vehicle with almost 100% success ratio. Utilized during launches of reconnaissance satellites is also used with combine launches of Japanese and South Korea satellites. Both countries are interested in developing their early warning and reconnaissance satellite fleet, and Japan has appropriate launch vehicle. It is possible that military cooperation between South Korea and Japan mainly based on common launches will be brought into new level.