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US, Japan Sign Joint Missile Defense Deal
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Japan and the United States signed a final agreement here on Friday to join hands on developing a next-generation ballistic missile defense system, a local media report said.

According to the pact, signed by Japanese Foreign Minister TaroAso and US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer, the two sides will start the joint development in the current fiscal year, KyodoNews said.

Based on an annexed document, the United States will be in charge of the development of kinetic warhead, while Japan will be responsible for that of the nose cone and rocket motor, and the two sides will jointly take on the work of system design and test-firing, it added.

The annexed document also stipulates that over the next nine years, Japan shoulders a half of the development cost, which is expected to top US$ 2.7 billion, the Kyodo News said.

Japan decided to take part in the cooperation with the United States on missile defense in 1998.

In order to facilitate the joint efforts on the missile shield when it was about to enter the development and production stages at the end of 2004, Japan announced that arms exports related to the project would be exempted from Japan's weapons export ban, or the "three principles on arms exports," so as to enable the sale of missile defense components to the United States.

Japanese Cabinet decided in December 2005 to promote the research on the missile defense system to "joint development" phase.
(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2006)

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