Tokyobling's Blog

Tokyo Missile Defense – Patriot Battery System

Posted in Places by tokyobling on April 12, 2012

If you’ve followed the news recently you might have heard that North Korea is planning a rocket launch “test” sometime this week or the following. It’s not the first time either, but this time the Japanese Self Defense Forces are taking precautions, and I was a little bit surprised to see a patriot missile system passing through the gates of the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district the other day. It reminded me of the couple of times I saw these very same weapons systems up at the Air Force base in Saitama’s Iruma City in 2009 and 2010 as part of the 1st or 4th Air Defense Missile Groups. On the news we could see these trucks readied among the blossoming cherry trees inside the Ministry of Defense gates, a rather bizarre contrast. You can read about it here if you want to know more, along with some more recent photos of the missiles. The batteries (there’s three of them in the area) along with three naval destroyers have been deployed to shoot down the North Korean rocket should it threaten Japanese territory, something I really hope we don’t have to see. I hadn’t expected to ever get a use for these photos.

There’s some very conflicting claims as to how efficient these things really are at shooting down incoming rockets and missiles anyway, with a hit rate ranging from less than 10% to 97% (the higher claim coming from former US president George H.W. Bush himself). I don’t think they have ever been really tested in Japan.

As excited we are at all this hardware I added a couple of photos of one of the handsome young soldiers attached to this unit, he probably didn’t mean to look so fierce, only the sun was very very bright that day! In the photos you can see the missile battery itself as well as a mobile antenna, Antenna Mast Group with an antenna that extends 9.23m above the truck.


18 Responses

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  1. Emily Cannell said, on April 12, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Not a world away when you live here is it?


    • tokyobling said, on April 12, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      We live in interesting times Ambler! (^-^;)


  2. C said, on April 12, 2012 at 4:10 am

    The juxtaposition of the soldier’s old-skool camo pattern + branded turtleneck (I thought Under Armour was only for athletics) is so symbolic of Japan, I think: traditional + hip.

    It’s amazing that you can get photos so close, but then I remembered it’s not the US post-9/11! Currently working in a similar situation and am amazed at the relatively relaxed nature going on there. Makes this military brat’s head spin…


    • tokyobling said, on April 12, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Ah, I think I know who to nominate for the next chair of the Fashion desk at Stars and Stripes! (^-^) Seriously though, I think there is a huge difference in how authority is perceived in Japan and what it is in other countries, and also the role of the civil servants and defense personnel.


      • C said, on April 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm

        I can see that — today I was told that in the US, the military is a lifestyle, whereas in [redacted] it’s just a job (for most). Given that I grew up in the “lifestyle” and bought into it hook line and sinker, this is quite a mental transition. (And given that I became a lush hippie in adulthood, the regimented aspects are yet another transition. My poor head is spinning!)


        • tokyobling said, on April 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm

          The hippie part makes me smile! Go for it! Let your inner hippie free! (^-^)/


  3. thelittlep said, on April 12, 2012 at 5:14 am

    Which version of the system are they using? MIM-104D and MIM-104F systems are top notch and will not miss. We used them with much success in Iraq for more than just missiles.


    • tokyobling said, on April 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

      Hi and welcome to the blog! I am not enough of an expert to tell the difference between the different systems, the only version names I hear over here are PAC-2 and PAC-3. I think these are PAC-3? Maybe.


      • thelittlep said, on April 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm

        Those are the latest versions of the system. You just don’t want the early versions. The newer systems do their job very well.


        • tokyobling said, on April 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm

          Yes! I just double checked and these are PAC-3. (^-^)


  4. D... said, on April 12, 2012 at 7:16 am

    All of it is so scary, and totally unnecessary. There is no purpose to N. Korea launching or threatening to launch missile(s). Actually there’s no point to violence, it just leads to more violence and misunderstanding. At the same time I understand that you want to protect your country. I think the soldier looks really worried (it’s the crinkled part between his two eyebrows). I don’t blame him in the least.


    • tokyobling said, on April 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm

      I totally agree. I’m pretty certain nothing much will happen though. Just like last time! (^-^;)


      • D... said, on April 13, 2012 at 7:05 am

        I just heard their “rocket” fell apart. Good gravy.


        • tokyobling said, on April 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm

          Haha… yes, that was what we all expected, I saw it one the news as I was having breakfast this morning. Well done PDRK! (^-^;)


  5. kaori said, on April 12, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I used to work near the Ministry of Defense in Ichigaya, and I can imagine what a big deal it must have been for these massive trucks to blaze through their gates! (You also made me reminisce about the sakura there…so so beautiful!) I hear so much about missile systems here in Israel, but have never actually seen photos of them.

    I sincerely hope these systems will never be necessary.


    • tokyobling said, on April 12, 2012 at 8:01 am

      Kaori, I hope so too! Yes, I think they have just the same systems in Israel, but probably around 100 times as many!


  6. Roger said, on April 13, 2012 at 1:24 am

    I know this isn’t really related to this post but I just had to thank you for such an amazing blog. I found your blog an hour ago when I was looking for Marunouchi pictures and I’m really exited to find it! I’m also madly in love in Japan and now with your blog too.



    • tokyobling said, on April 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you Roger, for your kind words! It makes my day! (^-^)/


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