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Japan warns of USSR in Far East

The Japanese Defense Agency said Tuesday that the Soviet Union had markedly improved its military strength in the Far East, affecting the power balance with the United States in the region.

A 297-page report, issued a week after the Cabinet tentatively agreed to increase Japan's defense budget by nearly $1 billion next year, stressed the need to continue efforts to boost defense capability, to maintain friendly and cooperative relations with the United States, and to ensure smooth operation of the Japanese-US mutual security treaty.

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In the past year the number of divisions in the Far East army district increased by 2 to 20, it said. The total number of troops in the Far East and Baikal army districts had increased by nearly 50,000 men to 450,000.

The strength of the Soviet Pacific fleet, based at Vladivostok, increased to 785 ships, including the first Soviet aircraft carrier to joint the Pacific Fleet, the 32,000-ton Minsk; the assault ship Ivan Rogov; and a Kara-class missile cruiser.

The report said the Soviet Union also had 450 bomber aircraft in the Far East region, including an unspecified number of newly deployed strategic long-range Backfire bombers. In addition, there were 1,450 fighters, including MIG-23s, MIG-27s, and SU-24 fighter-bombers, and 160 reconnaissance planes.

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