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Japan Eyes Sharp Rise In Missile Defense Budget

The increased budget is mainly to pay for the early deployment of more Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor missiles (pictured).
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 29, 2006
Japan's Defense Agency Tuesday requested a more than 50 percent rise in its missile defense budget following North Korea's volley of rocket launches, a ruling party official said.

In total the Defense Agency's proposed budget for the fiscal year starting in April 2007 is up 1.5 percent from the current term to 4.86 trillion yen (4.2 billion dollars), said the Liberal Democratic Party official.

The budget plan, submitted by the agency to the LDP, requests funds of 219 billion yen for missile defenses, up 56.5 percent from the current year.

Japan is pushing ahead with efforts to build a joint missile defense system with the United States after North Korea on July 5 fired seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2, into the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

The increased budget is mainly to pay for the early deployment of more Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor missiles, said the LDP official, who declined to be named as is usual practice.

It also includes costs for Standard Missile 3 interceptors for Aegis-equipped US warships as well as advanced radars and joint research and development with the United States on missile interceptors.

The budget request was endorsed by the defense committee of the LDP, public broadcaster NHK reported. The budget is expected to be fixed later this year.

The first US warship to be deployed in Japan with the capability of intercepting ballistic missiles arrived at the US military base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, on Tuesday.

The Shiloh guided-missile cruiser can shoot down short- and medium-range missiles.

Japan and the United States have agreed to install Patriot surface-to-air missiles at Kadena Air Base in the southern island chain of Okinawa that will be partly operational by the year end.

Japan has been in a hurry to boost its missile defenses since North Korea fired a rocket over the Japanese mainland into the Pacific Ocean in 1998, prompting Tokyo and Washington to step up cooperation in missile defenses.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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