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US sends warship amid Korea tension

Tokyo, July 8 (Reuters): A US navy guided missile destroyer, armed with the navy’s most advanced combat weapon system, arrived in Japan today as tensions surrounding North Korea’s missile tests remained at fever pitch.

The USS Mustin, equipped with missile tracking and engaging systems and with a crew of 300, will be permanently deployed at the navy’s Yokosuka base in Tokyo Bay, US navy spokeswoman Hanako Tomizuka said.

The US navy now has eight vessels equipped with its Aegis weapon system at Yokosuka, home of its Seventh Fleet. They are scheduled to be joined next month by the Aegis cruiser Shiloh, which last month took part in an exercise off Hawaii that involved successfully intercepting a missile in flight.

Separately, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force conducted a missile firing drill off the Hawaiian island of Kauai yesterday as part of a multinational exercise, Kyodo news agency said today.

Three destroyers successfully fired a missile at an unmanned target aircraft, it said.

A salvo of missile tests by North Korea on Wednesday, including the launch of a long-range Taepodong-2 missile, unsettled the region and led to calls for the UN Security Council to impose international sanctions on Pyongyang.

North Korea has insisted it has the right to test the missiles, and has said it would consider sanctions against it a declaration of war. Much of its anger has been aimed at Japan for pushing for sanctions.

Japan also banned a North Korean ferry, the only regular direct link between the two countries, from entering its ports for six months as part of a package of initial sanctions.

A poll published today found that four-fifths of Japanese think their country should step up economic sanctions against North Korea in response to the missile launches.

A total of 80.7 per cent favoured stronger sanctions such as blocking money remittances to North Korea or curbing trade with Pyongyang, according to a survey of 1,011 people conducted yesterday and today by Kyodo.

On North Korea’s missile firings, 87 per cent expressed anxiety, with 45.2 per cent saying they “feel very anxious” and 41.8 per cent saying they “feel somewhat anxious”, it said.

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