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Japan Deploys Missile Interceptor      09/19 06:02

   TOKYO (AP) -- Japan on Tuesday moved a mobile missile-defense system on the 
northern island of Hokkaido to a base near recent North Korean missile flyover 
routes.

   Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 
interceptor unit was deployed at the Hakodate base on southern Hokkaido "as a 
precaution" as part of government preparations for a possible emergency.

   The relocation came after a North Korean missile was test-fired last week 
and flew over southern Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific off the island's east 
coast --- the second flyover in less than a month.

   The PAC-3 was brought from another base in Yakumo town on Hokkaido, about 80 
kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Hakodate. The system has a range of about 20 
kilometers (12 miles).

   Four more of Japan's 34 PAC-3 units, largely used to defend the capital 
region, were relocated to southwestern Japan recently after North Korea warned 
of sending missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.

   Japan currently has a two-step missile defense system. First, Standard 
Missile-3 interceptors on Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan would attempt to 
shoot down missiles mid-flight. If that fails, surface-to-air PAC-3s would try 
to intercept them.

   Japan's Constitution, which limits the use of force to self-defense, only 
allows the military to shoot down missiles that are heading to Japan, or debris 
falling onto Japanese territory. Onodera has said a new security law passed in 
2015 might allow it to shoot down a Guam-bound missile if it poses a critical 
security threat to Japan and its top ally, the United States.


(KA)

 
 
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