• Kyodo News

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The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced Wednesday that it has selected an airline pilot and an Air Self-Defense Force officer to be its next astronaut candidates.

All Nippon Airways Co. pilot Takuya Onishi, 33, and Lt. Col. Kimiya Yui, 39, are the first new candidates selected to enter the astronaut corps since 1999. If they succeed, JAXA will have a total of 10 astronauts. Both were surprised at being selected.

“I have a sense of self-renewal,” Onishi said.

The Tokyo native joined ANA, Japan’s second-largest airline, upon graduating from the University of Tokyo.

Yui, a native of Nagano Prefecture and a National Defense Academy graduate, works in the Defense Ministry’s Air Staff Office. He is the first Self-Defense Forces officer to become an astronaut candidate.

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