Japan has launched a fifth spy satellite on an indigenously built H-2A launch vehicle to improve its ability to independently gather intelligence.

Japanese Cabinet Office official Hisashi Michigami was quoted by Business News as saying that the satellite will gather intelligence for the nation’s defence and diplomatic purposes.

“We hope to upgrade our ability to gather intelligence on our own,” Michigami said.

The country has launched the satellite to specifically keep a watch over Korea, prompted by concerns over its missile programme.

Japan’s first pair of spy satellites were launched in 2003 and three of them are operational after the fourth became unresponsive in 2007.