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Japan Green-Lights ABM Program With US

Ono confirmed media reports that Japan and the United States would jointly carry out the first missile interception test for their sea-based Standard Missile 3 interceptor next March in Hawaii.

Washington (UPI) July 5, 2005
Japan's announcement that it will push ahead with a massively expanded anti-ballistic missile program in close cooperation with the United States is sure to infuriate China and put the two Asian nations, already suffering increasing tension, on an intensified collision course.

Japan's Defense Agency chief Yoshinori Ono announced in Singapore Sunday that his country would advance its sea-based missile defense research project to the development stage in the coming fiscal year.

"The time has come to move to the development phase," Ono, who was attending the annual Asia Security Conference, told reporters. "I would like to have arrangements made within the government swiftly and submit the budget request for fiscal 2006." Fiscal year 2006 begins on April 1, 2006.

Ono made the announcement after consultations in early June with Henry A. Oberling III, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, when the latter visited Japan.

The move appears to be a response to the growing ballistic missile threat to densely populated Japan from North Korea's intermediate range Nodong missiles that may now have as many as eight nuclear warheads. And it reflects the continued clout of long-serving Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Koizumi, an intellectually formidable maverick within the usually cautious leadership of the venerable Liberal Democratic Party, has steered Japan closer than ever to the United States and repeatedly proven himself President George W. Bush's most reliable ally in Asia.

In December, he prepared the legal and constitutional ground for the decision to push ahead with the anti-ballistic missile program by having his government issue a statement placing the joint development and production of missile defense systems outside Japan's long-established ban on exporting weapons.

The Japanese ABM program looks like being a bonanza for U.S. defense contractors as it is being undertaken jointly with the United States. And it will also provide a much needed boost to advocates of missile defense in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon.

But it also looks certain to further heighten tensions between Japan and China that were already growing because of Japan's decision to claim sovereignty to Takashima Island in the Sea of Japan, and because of the Koizumi government's increased forthrightness in stating its determination to defend Taiwan from any Chinese threat to its de facto independence.

Since the beginning of this year, Japan has also seized control of an area in the South China Sea also claimed by Beijing.

Ono confirmed media reports that Japan and the United States would jointly carry out the first missile interception test for their sea-based Standard Missile 3 interceptor next March in Hawaii. "Even though the test has yet to be conducted, I firmly believe it is highly accurate and there is no problem," he said.

The SM-3 is designed to be deployed on AEGIS cruisers operated by both the United States and by Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Agency.

On June 29, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale to Japan of nine SM-3 Block 1A Standard missiles with Mark 21 Mod 2 canisters. The total value of the sale could be as high as $387 million, the agency said.

The missiles "will be used on (Japanese) ships and will provide, in concert with (Japan's) Patriot-3 missiles, the initial ballistic missile defense for mainland Japan," the agency said.

The principle contractors for the program will be Lockheed Martin's Maritime System and Sensors in Mooretown, N.J., Raytheon's Equipment Division in Andover, Mass., and United Defense in Minneapolis, Minn., the agency added.

The joint research on the SM-3 interceptor to be deployed on an AEGIS vessel involves four key components - the nose cone, infrared sensor, propulsion unit for the second stage rocket and kinetic warhead, the Kyodo news agency said.

Although President Bush and Prime Minister Koizumi have enthusiastically accelerated their countries' joint anti-ballistic missile program it in fact predates them both. The program was launched in 1999 after North Korea fired a long-range missile in August 1998, part of which flew over Japan into the Pacific.

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India Rules Out Accepting US Missile Defence System
New Delhi (AFP) Jul 05, 2005
India on Tuesday ruled out accepting a missile defence system from the United States.

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