This telex of local press agency Kyodo does not mention
or refuses to mention or reject the journalistic need to
clarify for the readers that there still is a ban on
export of defense equipments imposed by the Japanese
laws, neither the pressure on Japanese authorities by US
administration asking major financial contributions from
"Japan and the United States have started talks to move
the ongoing joint research on a missile defense system
to the development stage, a U.S. Defense Department
official said Monday.
The talks came after the Pentagon decided to embark on
the development in fiscal 2007 of an enhanced version of
its independently developed Standard Missile 3
interceptor, the official said. The two nations have
been jointly researching the enhanced version.
If the two nations agree on joint development, they are
likely to step up their moves toward production and
actual deployment, making the bilateral missile defense
cooperation the centerpiece of the security alliance.
Japan eased its arms export ban in December to enable
sales of missile components to the United States ahead
of a planned upgrading of the joint research.
The research involves a sea-based SM3 interceptor with a
diameter of 53 centimeters, an upgraded version of the
34-cm type developed by the United States. It focuses on
four key components, including nosecones and kinetic
The two nations are planning to conduct the first flight
test sometime in the second half of this year, and if
successful the second test in early next year.
Despite doubts expressed by some experts about the
effectiveness of the bigger SM3 interceptor, the U.S.
Navy has pressed for building it, citing its longer
range and higher interception capability.
Japan and the United States launched the joint research
in 1999 after North Korea fired a long-range rocket in
August 1998 that flew over Japan into the Pacific.
The two nations maintain the rocket was a multistage
missile, but the North insists it was for sending a
satellite into orbit.
In his budget plan unveiled Monday for fiscal 2006, U.S.
President George W. Bush reduced spending for
developing, testing and fielding missile defense systems
to $9.9 billion from $8.8 billion in fiscal 2005.
But the Pentagon plans to add 16 interceptors for
ballistic missiles -- five ground-based interceptors for
a total of 21 and 11 SM3 interceptors for a total of 22,
according to the budget plan.
The United States also plans to deploy 18 Aegis
destroyers and guided missile cruisers with SM3
interceptors in the Pacific and the Sea of Japan."