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Japan sticks with planned purchase of defense system

Japanese officials are defending plans to purchase the US air-defense system involved in the shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet Sunday. Japan expressed regret at the loss of life. But, according to a report in the daily Yomiuri Shimbun, a Defense Agency official said ``there will be no change in introducing the Aegis-type ship.''

An agreement with the United States to purchase the Aegis technology, worth about $470 million, for the first of four ships was signed little more than a week ago.

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The apparent failure of this system to distinguish the Iranian commercial jet from a much smaller and faster jet fighter has prompted questioning here of the decision.

The four vessels, to be built at a cost of 120 billion yen ($900 million), are intended to help Japan carry out its pledge to defend sea lanes out to 1,000 miles from its shores.