Japan tossed its hat into the ring with the world’s major providers of satellite-based Internet services with the successful launch last Saturday of a satellite that would deliver “super high speed” Internet connectivity throughout Japan and the Asia Pacific region. Deployed via an H-2A rocket launched from Japan’s Yoshinobu Launch Complex at the Tanegashima Space Center, the spacecraft was developed under the auspices of the government’s e-Japan project by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Once the satellite, known as “Kizuna,” is placed into operation, it would provide download speeds of up to 1.2 Gbps per second via 5-meter antennas that resemble those used for direct-to-home satellite services. Although Japan deployed its first satellite in 1970 and has since achieved key scientific milestones in space, the launch of Kizuna represents Japan’s first major foray into the global satellite broadband sector. In addition to offering high-speed connectivity throughout Japan and 19 neighboring countries, the satellite would also provide back up services in the event terrestrial Internet services are disrupted. Domestic services in Japan, however, would be targeted primarily to rural and other areas that are not currently served by a terrestrial fiber-optic Internet network. Observing that the goal of the project is the creation of the world’s most advanced information network, a JAXA spokesman predicted that, among other things, Kizuna’s launch “will make possible great advances in telemedicine, which will bring high-quality medical treatment to remote areas, and in distance education, connecting students and teachers.”