Thursday, July 21, 2005

U.S. Wants Japan To Share Missile Defense Radar Data

The United States, as part of its missile defense program, has asked the government to share any information obtained by advanced radar systems in Japan as soon as they detect a U.S.-targeted ballistic missile attack launched from such countries as North Korea, government sources said Tuesday.
Any such missile launch would probably first be detected in Japan by an advanced early warning radar system known as FPS-XX. The next-generation high-performance radar system, which is in its final stage of development by the Defense Agency's Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI), will be a pivotal component of the nation's missile defense system scheduled to be deployed 2007. The government is set to accept the U.S. requests for assistance saying there would be no problem in sharing information in the event of a missile attack on the United States, the sources said. U.S. forces have no fixed, land-based radar system such as FPS-XX in the Far East region. The TRDI-developed FPS-XX is designed to track ballistic missiles and the Defense Agency plans to have Air Self-Defense Force units operating the radar in four locations, including Aomori and Okinawa prefectures, during a three-year period from fiscal 2008. The sources said North Korean Taepodong-2 missiles are believed to have a range of up to 6,000 kilometers, capable of reaching parts of the United States, such as Alaska, in about 20 minutes. Washington therefore wants to be able to obtain missile launch information immediately after a launch, according to the sources, who declined to be named. The U.S. request was made in a two-day meeting of the Japan-U.S. Joint Command and Control Summit meeting at the U.S. Yokota Air Base on June 28 and 29 in which high-ranking officers from both countries took part, the sources said. The U.S. side in the meeting said it hoped Japan would provide tracking information about any detected long-range ballistic missile launch aimed at the United States or any medium-range one targeted at U.S. military bases in Japan. But there are objections among the opposition parties concerning such information sharing. Opponents assert that it would run counter to the government's interpretation of the Constitution, to the effect that the top law should be taken as banning Japan from exercising its right to collective self-defense. Under the ongoing Japan-U.S. missile defense collaboration, however, Japanese and U.S. forces have been sharing information obtained by Japan's radar systems on board Aegis-equipped destroyers, according to the sources. The government stance is that no constitutional or legal problems will arise in providing missile launch information to Washington. The only exception is for information tantamount to giving U.S. forces specific instructions about actions they should take for intercepting such an attack, they said. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in a plenary session of the House of Councillors in March, said that as part of the defense information-sharing arrangements, there was no problem in giving U.S. forces information obtained as a result of SDF national security duties.