Japan launched two intelligence satellites into orbit on Sunday amid growing concerns that North Korea is planning to test more rockets of its own and possibly conduct a nuclear test.
Officials say the launch Sunday of the domestically produced HII-A rocket went smoothly and the satellites - an operational radar satellite and an experimental optical probe - appear to have reached orbit.
Japan began its intelligence satellite program after North Korea fired a long-range missile over Japan's main island in 1998. North Korea conducted a launch last month that it says carried a satellite into orbit but has been condemned by the U.S. and others as a cover for its development of missile technology.
The latest Japanese launch was in the planning stages long before the current increase in tensions with North Korea, but underscores Japan's longstanding wariness of its isolated neighbor's abilities and intentions.
The radar satellite, which can provide intelligence through cloud cover and at night, is intended to augment a network of several probes that Japan already has in orbit. The optical probe will be used to test future technology and improvements that would allow Japan to strengthen its surveillance capabilities.
At 2:46pm every Japanese television channel paused to remember the dead, cancelling their regularly scheduled programming to show the prayers of Japanese people around the country.
That is, every channel except one. One decided to air Alien: Resurrection instead. (ibtimes.co.uk )
Kochi prefectural police are investigating an incident involving a man who sustained severe injuries after being stabbed several times in the abdomen. Police said they believe the attack is linked to a dispute the victim was having with another man over their children dating. (Japan Today )
Police in Niihama, Ehime Prefecture, are investigating the mutilation deaths of three cats whose bodies were left in a park. Two were found dead in February, and the third was found on Saturday. (Japan Today )
Banging on drums and waving "Sayonara nukes" signs, thousands of people rallied in a Tokyo park and marched to Parliament on Sunday to demand an end to nuclear power ahead of the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. (scmp.com )
Fewer than 40 pct of residents and commuters in Tokyo take specific measures to prepare for a possible huge earthquake beneath the Japanese capital, despite high awareness on disaster prevention, a Metropolitan Police Department survey showed Friday. (Jiji Press )