The United States has told Japan it would cost nearly three times more than previously estimated to develop a joint missile defense system against a possible attack by North Korea, a report said Sunday.
The Japanese government may try to renegotiate its contribution to the next-generation project, now estimated to cost a total of three billion dollars, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.
Japan's defense spending has been curtailed for three straight years up to March 2006 as Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi advocated an austere budget.
Washington's initial estimate saw the United States shouldering 545 million dollars until the fiscal year to March 2012 with work on the project starting in fiscal 2006, the Yomiuri said.
But the amount nearly tripled after Washington extended the period for development to 2014 and recalculated the amount based on previous weaponry projects, the mass-circulation daily said.
The paper said some members of the Japanese government have voiced concern over the latest estimate.
Japan expects the cost of maintaining the current missile defense system, which is scheduled to begin deployment in late fiscal 2006, to total 800 billion yen to one trillion yen (7.2-8.9 billion dollars), it said.
The paper quoted an anonymous defense agency official as indicating the US financial contribution should be examined carefully.
"It's possible that the US estimate includes experiments that are much larger in terms of scale than Japan needs," the official was quoted as saying.
Japan has been in a hurry to build up a missile defense system with the United States since North Korea stunned the world in 1998 by firing a missile over the Japanese mainland into the Pacific.
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