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Patriot missiles equipment being moved to Kadena

Date Posted: 2006-10-07

A ship carrying the first batch of equipment for the new Patriot missile system being deployed in Okinawa has arrived at Naha.

More than 300 vehicles and containers arrived over the weekend at Naha Military Port, where it was met by protesters outside the downtown American facility. The equipment is being transported this week to Kadena Air Base and the nearby Kadena Ammunition Storage Area. Protesters gathered outside the port to shout opposition to the missile systems in Okinawa.

The Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor system missiles are expected to arrive on Okinawa in several weeks. Officials say that equipment and ammunition will be delivered to the White Beach Naval Base and nearby Tengan Harbor. Included in the shipment will be missiles, artillery and radar units.

The equipment at Naha Military Military Port is being transported this week to Kadena, along Highway 58. The military convoys will be in five-vehicle increments leaving the port every 15 minutes.

The American military plans to begin partial operations of the PAC-3 system in December, with full operational status achieved by the first of April next year. The missile system is being moved to Okinawa as a result of an agreement last May between the U.S. and Tokyo. PAC-3 missiles are designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles as they approach a target.

Tsuyoshi Iwaya, Vice Minister of the Foreign Ministry, says “the reorganization of the American military is very important, and must be done quickly.” Opponents to the missiles deployment include workers unions and Kadena Town residents.

The mayor of Okinawa City, also located near Kadena Air Base, is also voicing opposition to the deployment. Mitsuko Tomon on Monday lodged a formal protest with the Defense Facilities Administration Agency, charging the agency allowed the deployment without first obtaining local consent.

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