Japan launches spy satellite

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TOKYO (AP) — Japan has launched an intelligence-gathering satellite, its second this year.

Japan’s space agency, JAXA, says the launch Monday was a success and the radar-equipped satellite is functioning properly. Officials refused to provide details of its capabilities.

Japanese media reports say it will augment the optical satellites Japan has already launched by providing data of what is happening on the ground at night or through cloud cover.

Japan launched its first pair of spy satellites in 2003, prompted by concerns over North Korea’s missile program. It currently has four optical information-gathering satellites in orbit. It previously launched two radar intelligence satellites, but both malfunctioned.

Another launch is planned next year.