Japan's defense chief said yesterday that Tokyo wants to speed up efforts to establish a missile defense shield with the US to guard against the threat posed by North Korea.
"In addition to building monitoring radar networks, we would like to cooperate with the US and put our joint missile interception into shape as quickly as possible," Defense Chief Fukushiro Nukaga told a parliamentary committee in the wake of North Korea's missile tests on Wednesday.
The US and Japan have been working to jointly develop a missile defense system and last month agreed to expand their cooperation on a joint ballistic missile defense shield, committing themselves to joint production of interceptor missiles.
The two governments also agreed to deploy advanced Patriot interceptor missiles on American bases in Japan for the first time.
Japan plans to deploy its own PAC-3 missiles by March 2007 and SM-3 missiles by March 2008, according to the Defense Agency.
Nukaga's comments Thursday came as he explained to the lower house national security committee the measures Tokyo was taking against Pyongyang in response to its missile tests.
On Wednesday, Tokyo barred North Korean officials from entering Japan, suspended all chartered flights between the two countries, and banned a North Korean trade ship from docking in Japan for six months.
Japan also sought condemnation of the missile launches in an emergency UN Security Council meeting.
(Chinadaily.com.cn via agencies July 7, 2006)