Japan plans to develop components for interception
missiles by advancing its joint missile-defence
research with the United States.
The plan will require Tokyo to ease its decades-old
ban on arms exports as it is expected to involve
exports of Japanese-made parts to the United States,
the Kyodo news agency quoted government sources as
saying. The two countries have been engaged since 1999
in joint technological research on a missile defence
Tokyo has now decided to move the programme to a
â€œdevelopment stageâ€� under strong pressure from
A panel of security advisors to Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi this month proposed that the arms
export ban be removed with an eye on the joint parts
development, the report added. In 1976, Tokyo banned
arms exports to all nations, but made an exception in
1983, following a request from Washington, to allow
â€œtechnologyâ€� exports to the United States.
The joint research covers four areas, infrared ray
sensors for identifying and tracking missiles,
high-performance shields to protect interceptor
warheads from air-attrition heat, second-rocket
propulsion units, and kinetic warheads for destroying
warheads of incoming ballistic missiles.
Separate to the joint research, Tokyo has already
decided to purchase a US-made missile defence system.
At the same time, a Japanese newspaper said that a
multinational marine security drill that Japan is
hosting as part of a US-led initiative to clamp down
on the spread of weapons of mass destruction has been
set for Oct 26.
Australia has said it will take part in the exercises
in waters near Tokyo Bay, along with the United
States, which launched the Proliferation Security
Initiative (PSI) in 2003.
The Asahi Shimbun daily said France would also
participate in the drill and another 14 nations,
including Russia, would take part as observers. Japan
had urged China and South Korea to participate, but
they are thought to be staying away for fear of
offending North Korea, which has expressed anger over
PSI, which allows the interception of ships and
aircraft suspected of carrying weapons of mass
destruction, now has the support of more than 60
countries, but experts say it risks contravening
international law. The drillâ€™s scenario will have a
Japanese navy patrol aircraft report to participating
countriesâ€™ vessels that it has discovered two
â€œsuspiciousâ€� ships, Asahi said, without citing
Special units will be transferred by helicopter from
their vessels to the â€œsuspiciousâ€� ships, where they
will practise searching for and seizing weapons of
mass destruction, the paper said.
Japan, whose post-World War Two armed forces are
constitutionally limited to â€œself-defenceâ€� duties, is
limiting its navyâ€™s participation to information
transmission to avoid irritating neighbouring
countries. The Japanese Coast Guard will take a more
active role in the drill, Asahi said.
The October 26 drill will be followed by a
smaller-scale exercise the following day, in which
Japanese navy personnel will board a vessel and search
for weapons, but will not themselves be armed, the