U.S. Prods Japan Over Missile Defense Systems
Fri June 13, 2003 02:42 AM ET
TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States urged Japan on Friday to forge a closer tie-up on missile defense and said U.S.-made missile defense systems would be useful for Japan to shield against possible attacks.
Visiting U.S. missile defense chief Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish told Japanese Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba that Washington wanted to secure closer cooperation from Japan on its planned missile defense shield, a Japanese official said.
The official quoted Kadish as telling Ishiba that the U.S. combination of an Aegis ship-based interception system and Patriot ground-to-air system would be useful for Japan.
Ishiba told Kadish that Japan would need more discussions on the missile defense system before making any concrete decision, the official said.
Japan has been considering introducing the two U.S.-developed missile defense systems to cope with possible attacks by a third country, notably North Korea.
Ship-based missile defense (SMD) using Aegis-equipped destroyers is designed to intercept short- and mid-range ballistic missiles at mid-course. The Patriot advanced capability-3 (PAC-3) ground-to-air system is designed to shoot down missiles the ship-based system fails to intercept.
In August 1998, North Korea alarmed the world by launching a Taepodong-1 missile that passed over Japan, demonstrating that areas with large populations including Tokyo were within the weapon's estimated 1,000 km (600 mile) range.
The surprise test-firing of the North Korean missile prompted Japan to start studying with Washington a theater missile defense system, a variant of the U.S. national missile defense system, aimed at shielding U.S. troops and allies in Asia.