Sat, Dec 30, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Japan plans to sign military data pact with US next month

SECURITY AGREEMENT An agreement has already been brokered and Tokyo is hoping that it will be ratified by early next year, according to a news report

AP , TOKYO

Japan plans to sign a military data protection pact with the US that could lead to increases in information sharing amid efforts by Tokyo to step up its coordination with Washington on defense matters, a news report said yesterday.

Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma is expected to announce Japan's plan to conclude the General Security of Military Information Agreement at a meeting in Washington next month, the Asahi newspaper said in an unsourced story.

The meetings bring together the defense and foreign ministers of each country to discuss a range of issues. Japanese media have been reporting that a meeting has been arranged for next month, but neither government has confirmed the reports.

The two sides have already reached broad agreement on the security pact in working-level talks, the Asahi said. The Japanses government hopes to formally conclude the pact and have it ratified by parliament as early as the first half of next year, it said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has sought to bolster the country's defense coordination with the US, which bases some 50,000 troops here. The agreement would expand the amount of military information the two sides could share beyond what is permitted under their existing mutual defense agreement, the Asahi said.

It would also broaden the range of US military equipment that Japanese contractors could be called upon to service and repair, it said.

Neither Foreign Ministry nor Defense Agency officials could be reached for comment yesterday morning, with many government offices already closed for the year-end holidays.

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