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JGSDF PAC-3 missile teams return to bases

Date Posted: 2012-04-20

Japanese Ground Self Defense Forces deployed to Okinawa Prefecture to stand guard against an erratic North Korean rocket launch that could have brought the missile itself, or debris, over Japanese territory have redeployed to home bases in mainland Japan now that the communist Unha missile went out of control a minute after its 7:39 a.m. launch Monday.

Many of the 1,000 Self Defense Forces personnel began packing up within hours of the failed launch, and began loading their gear and equipment aboard ships for the trip home. They’d been sent to Okinawa by Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka to intercept the debris, or the rocket itself, it it was thought to pose a threat to the nation.

The last of the personnel deployed here, along with their ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missile batteries, are expected to leave today. Batteries had been deployed to four locations on Okinawa’s main island, as well as Ishigaki and Miyako Islands. Another three batteries were deployed to Tokyo locations as a precautionary measure.

Also gone are three Aegis-equipped Japan Maritime Self Defense Force destroyers that also were sent to the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea near Okinawa Prefecture to stand watch. The North Koreans had said the rocket’s first stage would splash down west of South Korea, with the second stage flying over areas near Ishigaki Island in the Sakishima Island chain before ultimately splashing down east of the Philippines.

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