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Plan for spy-satellite system finalized, last site chosen.

TOKYO, Aug. 15 Kyodo

Japan's plan to set up a system of four reconnaissance satellites has been finalized, with Kagoshima Prefecture chosen as the second of two sites for the system's ground antennas, a government source said Tuesday.

The city of Akune, located in southwestern Japan, will host one of two dish-shaped antennas, which along with the four satellites and two data control centers, will make up the system. The other antenna will be located in the city of Tomakomai on the northernmost Japan main island of Hokkaido.

The satellites are to be launched into orbit by the end of March 2003.

The idea to launch the spy satellites came after North Korea launched a rocket, widely believed to be a missile, over Japan in 1998. The Japanese government, without its own reconnaissance satellites, was informed of the launch by the United States.

The government named Akune as the site after failing to reach an agreement with two towns -- one each in Kumamoto and Okinawa prefectures on the southwestern Japan main island of Kyushu -- as a result of disputes with residents opposed to the construction of military facilities in their areas.

Akune Deputy Mayor Yutaka Kawabata, however, welcomed the plan saying, ''The city assembly approved in June a resolution calling on the government to decide (on Akune).''

Two of the four satellites will carry cameras capable of recognizing objects on the earth as small as 1 meter, while the other two, which use radio waves, will be able to map out images of objects through thick cloud and in the shade of the earth.

The government plans to complete the system's nerve center, located in Tokyo, and the other data center in Ibaraki Prefecture by the end of March 2002, the source said.

The previous candidate areas were the towns of Aso in Kumamoto, and the town of Higashi in Okinawa.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Aug 21, 2000
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