TOKYO (AP) _ Three Japanese companies will begin in the next year to develop a quiet, low-pollution supersonic jet engine with government support, the Sunday edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.

The companies _ Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. _ hope to make a prototype by the year 2003, giving them a head start on competitors, the newspaper said.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry plans to provide a total of 15 billion yen ($111 million) in subsidies for the project, it added.

The three partners will establish a research association by next spring. Overseas corporations such as General Electric Co. are sounding out MITI on possible participation, paving the way for the formation of an international consortium, the report said.