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US to Deploy Missile Interceptors in Okinawa Soon
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The Japan based US army will begin to deploy the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missile interceptors at its facilities in Okinawa Prefecture in August, Japanese government officials said on Thursday.

The US government informed Japan of its decision on Wednesday, Kyodo News quoted the officials as saying.

According to a plan, the US army would install altogether 24 launching pads and deploy 600 additional troops specified for the advanced missile defense system at the US Kadena Air Base and the US Air Force's Kadena Ammunition Storage Area.

This would be the first time for the Japan based US army to deploy such a system, which is expected to have preliminary operational capabilities by the end of 2006 and become fully operational by the end of next March.

Deployment of related personnel and equipment start next month, the Kyodo News said.

In the realignment plan of US military presence in Japan settled in May, Japan and the United States agreed to start the deployment of the PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) missile interceptors at US bases in Japan in 2006, but didn't mentioned as early as in August.

The planned deployment aroused opposition from municipal governments in Okinawa. Japanese Defense Facilities Administration Agency chief Iwao Kitahara has arrived in Okinawa to have discussion with local people and officials, who accused the central government of imposing "a unilaterally decided measure" on them.

(Xinhua News Agency July 20, 2006)


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