From Reuters: Army Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly said on Wednesday he had held several high-level program reviews with Japanese government officials since the Democratic Party of Japan’s victory in the Aug. 30, 2009, elections for the legislature’s lower house.

"They have indicated that they are in full support and their commitments are solid," he told the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee, referring to a Standard Missile-3 upgrade program in its fifth year of development.

Published reports from Japan have said the coalition government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama that took power in September plans to reduce overall missile-defense spending.

Japan has spent just over $1 billion to help build a more capable SM-3 version, said Richard Lehner, a Missile Defense Agency spokesman. It is being co-developed with Waltham, Massachusetts-based Raytheon Co (RTN.N), the world’s biggest missile maker.

The new version, dubbed SM-3 Block IIA, is key to U.S. plans to be able to defend all of NATO’s European territory from a perceived Iranian ballistic-missile threat as soon as about 2018. …

By 2015, the Obama administration plans to buy 436 early-generation SM-3 interceptors and 431 Lockheed-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems, the building blocks of regional antimissile shields. It also plans to have 38 ballistic-missile-defense ships available.  (graphic: Missile Defense Agency)