AFP, Tokyo: Japan wants to put a missile shield it is developing with the United States in place in early 2006, one year earlier than planned, due to threats from North Korea and China, a report said Saturday.
The move reflects the government's decision that a missile defense system is needed as soon as possible because of the growing threat posed by North Korean and Chinese ballistic missiles, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.
The launch of the system would coincide with the timing of the revised Self-Defense Law, the mass-circulation daily said, citing government sources.
Japan's parliament enacted the law Friday to let the defense chief order the interception of a missile without prior cabinet permission in a crisis.
It is yet to be officially announced when the revised law would come into force but the defense agency wants to put it into effect in March 2006, the Yomiuri said.
North Korea provoked an international outcry in 1998 by test-firing a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan.
The communist state is also believed to have deployed around 200 Rodong missiles with a range of about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles), meaning Japan could be hit by them, the Yomiuri said.
China possesses Dong Feng 21 intermediate ballistic missiles which are capable of carrying nuclear payloads.