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The government will encourage Japanese companies to acquire the advanced space and military technology of former Soviet republics for nonmilitary use, officials said Thursday.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry will provide subsidies to Japanese companies entrusting former Soviet bloc nations with technological research projects through an international science and technology center, MITI officials.

The center was set up in 1992 jointly by Russia, Japan, the United States and the European Union to promote the conversion of military technology for nonmilitary use and to stop the outflow of researchers working on weapons of mass destruction.

The ministry will call for applications for the subsidies through the government-affiliated New Energy and Industrial Development Organization as early as April, and provide subsidies of up to 100 million yen per project a year after screening applications, the officials said.

The ministry will also consider providing subsidies to Japanese companies directly entrusting research institutes in the region with research projects, they said.

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