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Satellite malfunction disrupts monitoring of security situation around Japan

  • May 14, 2019
  • , Mainichi
  • JMH Summary

Mainichi front-paged a finding that because of a technical problem discovered in January with a U.S. commercial imagery satellite for which Japan’s Defense Ministry had priority usage rights, the ministry has not been able to conduct proper monitoring of the security situation around the Japanese archipelago. While the ministry had reportedly paid some 8 billion yen ($70 million) a year to DigitalGlobe, which operated the WorldView-4 satellite to collect high-resolution imagery as part of intelligence gathering on North Korea, China, and Russia, it discontinued the contract in February following the breakdown of the spacecraft, which is said to be irrecoverable. While emphasizing that the prolonged absence of WorldView-4 imagery is “not fatal” to national security, the ministry has reportedly been looking for an alternative imagery supplier amid North Korea’s renewed moves to stage military provocations.  

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