Training of 2 Japanese astronaut candidates shown to media

Japan's space agency has shown the training of two new astronaut candidates to reporters for the first time.

Suwa Makoto and Yoneda Ayu were chosen as the candidates in February last year through an examination held for the first time in 14 years.

The candidates are midway through a basic training course lasting some two years. It includes lessons in the English and Russian languages and piloting small aircraft.

On Wednesday, Suwa and Yoneda were shown working out, doing squats and bench presses, at a facility of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency in Tsukuba City, north of Tokyo.

After the session, Yoneda said wearing the blue JAXA uniform with her name on it "makes me walk tall." With the first anniversary of her selection approaching, she said she has renewed her resolve to put all her efforts into the training.

Suwa mentioned the range of programs he and Yoneda tackle, in fields including science, engineering and medicine. He said the instructors' enthusiasm makes them all "really fun."

Suwa spoke about January's moon landing by Japan's SLIM unmanned probe, which touched down on the surface -- although at an unexpected angle. He quipped, "I could have put it the right way up if I were there."

The two trainees are expected to be certified as astronauts as early as around November.