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Japan deploying Patriot missiles to Okinawa, Tokyo

Date Posted: 2012-03-30

The mid-April launch of a missile that experts say could cross over Japanese territory is triggering massive preparations by the Japanese government, including preparations for deploying Patriot missiles to Tokyo, elsewhere in mainland Japan and on Okinawa.

Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka has told the Diet an anti-missile battery will be placed in densely populated Tokyo, as well as to Kyushu and Okinawa. “We are working on procedures to deploy the Patriot in the Tokyo metropolitan area, acting on precedent,” he explained to upper house members, referring to the PAC-3 surface-to-air missile defense system.

“We are also preparing to deploy the Patriot in the Nansei (southwestern) islands including Okinawa,” as the second stage of North Korea’s rocket is expected to fly over Japan’s southernmost island chain, the Defense Minister added. North Korea says it will launch the missile to put a satellite into orbit, which it claims is purely for research and is not a ballistic missile test. Such tests are banned by the United Nations, but analysts don’t believe North Korea’s claim.

Japan’s missile defense systems are being set up to shoot down the missile if it tracks over Japanese territory, much as it did in 2009. The Tokyo-based system will be in the Ichigawa area. On Okinawa, the PAC-3 missiles will be put into place on a Japanese Self Defense Forces base in Chinen.

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