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Japan to study equipment to counter spy ships.

TOKYO, May 6 Kyodo

Japan's Defense Agency intends to develop equipment that would use a parachute-like object to slow down intruding spy ships, agency officials said Thursday. The idea comes after the intrusion in March of two ships which Japan believes were on a spy mission from North Korea. Japanese ships and airplanes were dispatched to intercept the intruders, but they escaped by outrunning the Japanese ships. In fiscal 2000 that starts next April 1, the agency will seek money in the budget to carry out research and development on the envisioned equipment, the officials said. According to a basic proposal, a catapult-like device would shoot ropes with a sheet attached at an intruding ship. The rope would become entangled around the ship's stern and the parachute would open under the water, slowing the ship down. The arrangement may also use weights. The study is expected to focus on which points of intruding vessels should be targeted and how to prevent the ropes from being cut, the officials said. The Maritime Self-Defense Force has similar equipment, called "sea anchors" on its lifeboats, used to stabilize boats in rescue operations. The new plan, however, envisions use of the catapult-like device and larger sea anchors to deal with high-speed ships, the officials said. In another aspect of the plan, Japan plans to ask South Korea for information on the structure and capability of North Korean espionage vessels. The information would be used for a study on procedures for firing warning shots at intruding spy ships and boarding them for inspections. Meanwhile, the Defense Agency has already decided in principle to seek necessary budget money for fiscal 2000 to introduce two high-speed boats that would carry missiles and to introduce machine guns that would destroy the propellers of intruder vessels.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 10, 1999
Words:297
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