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TOKYO — Japanese police will strengthen security at U.S. facilities including bases and embassies, officials said Tuesday after Japan approved a plan to dispatch Self-Defense Forces to Iraq.

Japan’s National Police Agency told the prefectural police to tighten security at facilities including 174 U.S. interests, which have been on security alert since the U.S.-led attack on Iraq began earlier this year, according to the National Police Agency.

The upgraded security precautions weren’t apparent at bases across the Pacific on Thursday morning and military officials provided few details. Generally, Japanese police buses are lined up near the bases during times of heightened security.

“We do thankfully here in Japan have some outstanding support from the Japanese police agency and the Coast Guard,” said Marine Maj. James Bell, a U.S. Forces Japan spokesman. “Their expertise augmenting our security is vital. Because of the support we get, certainly our security posture is strengthened.”

Bell said no statistics were available on how many times in the past year U.S. bases had raised security levels.

“Maintaining the safety of our personnel and the security of our bases has been and will continue to be a top priority,” said Capt. Chris Perrine, the assistant media relations officer for Marines on Okinawa. “Commanders continually assess the situation and adjust to maintain the appropriate level of security at all of our facilities. While it would be inappropriate to discuss the specifics of our security posture and procedures, we maintain excellent communications with local, federal and host nation law enforcement agencies to ensure protection for our bases.”

Okinawa Prefectural Police said Thursday there has been no change in their security patrols around U.S. military bases.

“We are continuing to patrol the perimeters of the U.S. military bases and other important national facilities on Okinawa,” a police spokesman said. “There has been no increase in the number of the officers assigned to this duty, and we have not requested and have not received any additional troops from the National Police Agency.

“We continue to maintain a vigilant eye in this area.”

Since Operation Iraqi Freedom began, Japanese police have tightened security around 650 facilities in Japan, including nuclear power plants and embassies. The officials said no extra facilities have been added to the list.

The NPA also instructed the prefectural police to work with immigration facilities to prevent terrorists from entering Japan and to step up intelligence gathering and terrorist arrests.

U.S. Embassy officials said individual precautions applicable to Americans can be found on their Web site, [BOLDFACE]japan.usembassy.gov[/BOLDFACE]. Those precautions include online terrorism preparation pamphlets and State Department Office of Diplomatic Security guidelines on personal safety.

According to a worldwide caution released Nov. 21 and published on the Embassy’s Web site, terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.

The targets “may include facilities where U.S. citizens and other foreigners congregate or visit, including residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events or resorts and beaches. U.S. citizens should remain in a heightened state of personal security awareness when attendance at such locations is unavoidable.”

Hana Kusumoto, David Allen, Nancy Montgomery and Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.

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