Tanega-shima (tänā´gä-shĬmä), island, 176 sq mi (456 sq km), off S Kyushu, Japan. Fishing and farming are important there. It is the site of Japan's main rocket launch center and a space satellite tracking station. Mendez Pinto, a Portuguese voyager on his way to China, landed (1543) there and introduced firearms to Japan. The name of the island came to mean "firearms" to the Japanese.