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Japan to Develop Missile Defense System with US from 2006

Japan aims to start developing next year a missile defense system that it has been researching with the United States, the defense agency chief said.

The defense agency will include in its budget for the next fiscal year some "several billion yen (tens of millions of dollars)" for the project, Yoshinori Ohno told Japanese reporters in Singapore Sunday.

"We have completed the joint technology research stage," Ohno was quoted by the Asahi Shimbun as saying at an international conference, where he met US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"We are now moving toward the development stage," he said.

"We would like to expand the scope of the missile defense system so we will have the capability to respond to decoys that are used to avoid interceptors against ballistic missiles," he was quoted by Kyodo News as saying.

Production will begin following a five-year development phase that ends in fiscal 2011, he said, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

Ohno also stressed the need to develop and produce the interceptor missiles as soon as possible, major media said.

Japan has been in a hurry to build up a missile defense system since Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired a suspected Taepodong missile over the Japanese mainland and into the Pacific in 1998, unnerving the region and the world.

Ohno said Japan and the United States would jointly carry out the first missile interception test for the sea-based Standard Missile 3 interceptor next March in Hawaii.

(Chinadaily.com via agencies June 6, 2005)

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