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Keeping an Eye on North Korea
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The North Korean problem is still imminent and still needs attention. And obviously, not just from us.

Which is why Japan is launching two new spy satellites.

The two satellites, the first of at least four in the 250-billion-yen ($2.05bn) spy programme, were propelled into clear but windy skies by a Japanese-made H2-A rocket.

They are intended to give Tokyo independent surveillance capabilities, since it has used US-gathered intelligence until now.

It's difficult to know how to feel about Japan reemerging as a strong military presence. They don't have a good track record, but of course they were previously an Imperial dictatorship. Now they're a democracy. And even though they have an economy that's been in a funk for over a decade, they're still the preeminent economy in Asia, and it would be nice to see them start footing the bill for security. They can definitely still afford it.

Still, the prospect of a beefed up, well-armed Japan is a little unsettling. Their Defence Minister had this to say:

On Thursday, Japanese Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba said that Tokyo would consider developing offensive capabilities, something that would go against Japan's pacifist constitution.

Though their Prime Minister denied such a possibility. And what about the possibility of Japan developing nuclear weapons?

Mr Ishiba also told the South Korean paper, Chungang Ilbo, that Japan would not respond to North Korea's threats by joining it in a nuclear arms race.

He said that as the victim of nuclear attacks in 1945, "we are not even thinking about having nuclear weapons".

Forgive me for being skeptical, but I seriously doubt they haven't even thought about it. I would be surprised if there weren't teams of Japanese scientists at least doing feasibility studies, if not already actively working on a preliminary nuclear weapons program.

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