Japan builds second missile defence shield

TOKYO Thu Nov 29, 2007 8:19am IST

The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles' canister for training is seen on a military vehicle as a member of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) stands nearby at Iruma Air Base in Sayama, north of Tokyo, in this March 30, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Kiyoshi Ota/Files

The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles' canister for training is seen on a military vehicle as a member of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) stands nearby at Iruma Air Base in Sayama, north of Tokyo, in this March 30, 2007 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Kiyoshi Ota/Files

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan set up its second ballistic missile interceptors at an air base east of Tokyo on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said, as part of its efforts to strengthen defences against neighbour North Korea.

Two Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) launchers, capable of shooting down incoming missiles in the final stage of flight, were deployed at the Narashino base in Chiba, about 25 km from central Tokyo.

Japan first deployed interceptors at a base north of Tokyo in March, after North Korea fired a ballistic missile in 1998 that flew over Japan. Last year, Pyongyang fired more missiles and tested a nuclear device.

Japan is scheduled to deploy interceptors at two more locations near Tokyo by the end of March next year.

With a relatively short range of 20 km, the interceptors are likely to be deployed to protect political and financial hubs.

A newspaper reported on Sunday that Japan would conduct drills next month to move the missile interceptor equipment into central Tokyo in times of emergency, although a Defence Ministry spokeswoman said nothing had been decided.

Japan plans to test its first ship-based anti-ballistic missile interceptors off Hawaii in a joint exercise with the United States in the week of Dec. 17.

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