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2ND LD: Japan to step up efforts to establish missile defense soon: Nukaga.

TOKYO, July 6 Kyodo


Defense Agency Director General Fukushiro Nukaga told a Diet committee Thursday Japan will increase efforts to establish a missile defense shield in cooperation with Washington as soon as possible.

''We intend to waste no time in establishing an interception system along with a monitoring radar network in cooperation with the United States,'' Nukaga said at a session of the House of Representatives Committee on Security.

Japan plans to deploy ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile interceptors by March 2007 and sea-based Standard Missile-3 interceptors by March 2008 as the pillars of the missile defense shield.

Nukaga made the remark after North Korea launched seven missiles Wednesday in the direction of the Sea of Japan. During the one-hour session, he briefed the lower house committee members on the missile launches and the kinds of steps the government will take.

At the Defense Agency, the top Self-Defense Force officer said Japan must expedite establishing a missile defense system to deal responsibly with future situations similar to North Korea's missile launches Wednesday.

''We will learn from this experience and promptly analyze (the details) so they can be put to use in the future,'' Gen. Hajime Massaki, chief of staff of the SDF's Joint Staff Office, said at a news conference.

On Wednesday, North Korea launched a long-range Taepodong-2 missile believed capable of reaching the United States, along with six shorter-range missiles. All of them crashed into the Sea of Japan, causing no damage or injuries.

Japan and the United States began a joint missile defense research project in 1999 after North Korea test-fired a long-range Taepodong-1 missile the year before.

The Taepodong-1 flew over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean, sending the Japanese public and politicians into a panic, and calls mounted for a missile shield over the country.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Jul 10, 2006
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