Report: United States to deploy PAC-3 missiles in southern Japan by year's end

Monday, June 26, 2006

TOKYO -- The United States plans to deploy Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles in southern Japan by the end of the year, a local newspaper reported late Sunday. The PAC-3 is designed to intercept and destroy incoming missiles and aircraft.

The report comes as the United States and Japan are deeply concerned about signs North Korea may be preparing for an imminent test-launch of a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile.

The U.S. government notified Japan earlier this month that it will deploy PAC-3 missiles at its Kadena Air Base or its ammunition storage area on the southern island of Okinawa, Japan's largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, reported.

The U.S. military also plans to deploy an additional 500 to 600 American troops to Okinawa, along with an expected three to four PAC-3 missiles batteries, Yomiuri said, quoting unidentified sources.

Tokyo is expected to accept the plan, which was proposed by the U.S. officials in a June 17 meeting in Hawaii, the report said.

Growing concerns about a potential North Korean missile launch also prompted the United States to move up its planned test of missile-detecting radar in northern Japan to as early as today, Kyodo News agency reported.

The so-called X-Band radar had been transferred to Japanese Air Self-Defense Force's Shariki base in Tsugaru in northern Japan from the U.S. military's Misawa Air Base in Misawa, the Defense Agency said. Tsugaru is 360 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Japanese Defense Agency officials were not immediately available for comment.

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