• Kyodo

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A U.S. naval hospital ship docked in Tokyo’s Ota Ward on Saturday at the invitation of a group of ruling bloc lawmakers who are calling for Japan to build hospital ships of its own.

The visit is the first by the 272-meter USS Mercy. The government is considering building ships like the Mercy to act as floating hospitals after major disasters like the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The Mercy can carry more than 1,000 personnel and has 80 intensive-care beds.

The magnitude 9 Great East Japan Earthquake paralyzed hospitals in many parts of the Tohoku region, which was subsequently hit by giant tsunami that wrecked much of its Pacific coastline.

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