The project was hatched in 1998, after a North Korean ballistic missile flew over Japan and shook the nation's collective faith in the U.S. military umbrella that has shielded it for half a century. U.S. officials initially pressured Japan to buy American satellites, but Tokyo insisted on developing its own technology. Social Democratic Party lawmaker Masami Imagawa warns that government hawks "are quietly expanding military strength without enough public debate."
If so, they're on a roll. Next up: an unmanned spy plane that can patrol North Korea from international airspace. Smile, Dear Leader—the camera loves you.