Home > News
  print button email button

Sunday, Dec. 25, 2005

Missile shield project to proceed

Joint program with U.S. will move to development stage

Staff writer

The government formally decided Saturday to begin joint development of a next-generation interceptor missile with the United States in April -- a move critics say will create tension in East Asia.

Japan is expected to shoulder $1 billion to $1.2 billion of the total cost of the project in the nine years from 2006 and 2014, while the U.S. will bear as much as $1.5 billion.

The decision was endorsed by the Security Council of Japan and the Cabinet. The Defense Agency gained 3 billion yen for the project in the fiscal 2006 budget, which was also approved Saturday by the Cabinet.

Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said the government decided to proceed to the development stage because joint research with the U.S., which began in 1999, convinced Japan that the ballistic missile defense system would be effective.

"Japan's defense capabilities will improve and (this in turn will) lead to regional stability," he told a news conference.

Separately, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe released a statement saying the government considers it "appropriate" to move on to the joint development stage to ensure that the system will be able to counter threats from ballistic missiles.

The government will decide whether to actually deploy the system based on the results of the joint development, the statement said.

It also said Japan will ensure that provision to the U.S. of weaponry necessary for the joint project is made under "strict supervision."

Japan's self-imposed ban on arms exports prohibits the government from selling weapons to other countries. But the government decided last December that arms exports for joint missile development would be excluded from this ban.

The government adheres to a policy of not selling arms to communist bloc countries, countries to which the export of arms is prohibited under U.N. resolution and countries involved in or likely to become involved in international conflicts.

Japan and the U.S. are expected to exchange notes as early as April that would oblige the U.S. to gain approval from Japan before it transfers jointly developed weapons or their parts to a third nation, according to a Defense Agency official who briefed reporters.

The U.S. also needs to gain approval from Japan if it intends to use jointly developed weapons or their parts for other purposes, the official said.

The joint development project involves four components of the enhanced SM-3 (Standard Missile) system -- the nose cone, infrared sensor, stage-two rocket engine and kinetic warhead.

Satoshi Morimoto, a professor of defense and security at Takushoku University, said Japan and the U.S. now need to map out a guideline on how to cooperate in introducing the system as early as 2014.

"The next task is to decide, for example, what role Japan will play when the U.S. forces actually put the system into operation," he said.

Morimoto also pointed out that recent moves in Japan, the U.S. and Taiwan indicate that the three sides may be planning to create a joint missile defense system in Northeast Asia, a move that could anger China.

Earlier this month, Taiwan put into service two destroyers purchased from the U.S. equipped with the Aegis system.

"If the U.S. provides intelligence for Taiwan's Aegis system, Japan and Taiwan will be capable of building a missile defense system under the U.S. umbrella to defend themselves against (attacks from) China and North Korea," Morimoto said. "That would be unacceptable to China."

We welcome your opinions. Click to send a message to the editor.

The Japan Times

Article 1 of 12 in National news


Back to Top

About us |  Work for us |  Contact us |  Privacy policy |  Link policy |  Registration FAQ
Advertise in japantimes.co.jp.
This site has been optimized for modern browsers. Please make sure that Javascript is enabled in your browser's preferences.
The Japan Times Ltd. All rights reserved.