TOKYO (AP) _ Japan will build a radar and telescope system to monitor asteroids or any space debris that could threaten rockets and satellites launched from Earth.

The new radar will be capable of searching to an altitude of 620 miles for debris such as spent rocket boosters and inactive satellites, a spokesman for Japan's Science and Technology Agency said Tuesday.

The agency has budgeted $9.2 million for the five-year project. The radar facility is to be built on the site of a uranium processing plant in rural Okayama prefecture, 340 miles west of Tokyo, said the spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The agency also plans to build a high-powered telescope to search for asteroids on a collision course with Earth, the spokesman said.

More than 8,000 bits of space debris are currently orbiting Earth, according to the North American Air Defense Command, which monitors the debris for the United States and Canada.

Governments track the debris closely to predict when and where it might enter the atmosphere and to prevent returning space junk from triggering a false alarm in missile-attack warning systems.