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Japan boosts missile defences in Tokyo

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 30, 2008
Japan on Wednesday deployed its third ballistic missile defence system in the Tokyo area as the pacifist nation beefs up its military capability in the face of North Korea and China.

Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air interceptors were installed at a Japanese air force base in Yokosuka, also home to a major US naval base, a defence ministry spokesman said.

"The system was deployed today," he said, without disclosing details.

The ministry set up two other Patriot systems last year around Tokyo. It plans another by the end of March to complete a four-part missile defence system protecting Tokyo, he said.

The ministry plans to deploy the US-developed PAC-3s at a total of 11 bases in eastern and western Japan by March 2011.

Japan and the United States started working on a more advanced missile shield after North Korea fired a missile over Japan's main island in 1998.

Japan has been repairing relations with China but has also voiced concern about Beijing's rapidly growing military spending, including advances in its cruise missiles and air strike capabilities.

Japan's first Patriot missiles were set up by US forces in 2006 on the southern island of Okinawa.

Last month, Japan succeeded in shooting down a ballistic missile in space high above the Pacific Ocean as part of joint efforts with the United States to build a shield against a possible North Korean attack.

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