Pence examines anti-missile system deployed in Tokyo

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Tokyo, Feb 7 (IANS) US Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday examined the anti-missile system deployed in Tokyo for defence against a possible attack by North Korea, during his official visit to Japan before attending the Winter Olympics.

Pence, who arrived Tuesday, began his official agenda Wednesday with a meeting with Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, after which they went on to examine the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-missile defence system, while guided by an official of the Japan Self-Defence Forces, reports Efe news.

The PAC-3 defence systems remain permanently deployed in Tokyo, along with other similar systems in different parts of the country, besides the Navy’s Aegis destroyers, which cover practically the entire Japanese archipelago against possible missile attacks.

Last year, the Japanese military bolstered its anti-missile shield, which included a record increase in its defence budget, following repeated missile launches by North Korea, including two that flew over Japanese territory before falling into the Pacific Ocean.

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The Vice President’s trip to Japan and South Korea comes amid a thaw in relations between Seoul and Pyongyang ahead of the Winter Olympics scheduled to begin on Friday.

Pence, who is to leave for South Korea on Thursday, seeks to use his presence at the sporting event to warn against Pyongyang’s propaganda and denounce the human rights situation in North Korea, according to sources in Washington.

The opening of the Games will also be attended by Kim Yong-nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, with whom it is speculated that Pence could interact, in line with bilateral meets planned by Seoul with the senior official from Pyongyang.

Pence was also scheduled to hold a series of meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and attend a joint press conference with the Japanese leader.

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–IANS

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