Sat, Jun 08, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Japan’s government backs security council proposal

Reuters, TOKYO

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government yesterday approved legislation to set up a national security council, moving to strengthen the premier’s grip on foreign policy in the face of North Korean missile threats and a territorial dispute with China.

The hawkish Abe has pursued the formation of Japan’s version of the White House’s National Security Council to centralize information gathering and speed up decision-making, a move welcomed by US security experts.

“We have put in place a structure that allows Japan to comprehensively monitor the country’s security,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters at a news conference.

The bills are now to be submitted to the current session of parliament, which ends on June 26, for possible enactment in an extraordinary Diet session in the fall.

The need for a centralized national security body has been highlighted by North Korea’s recent saber-rattling and a deadly January raid by jihadists on a natural gas plant in Algeria.

Japan struggled to obtain information on the Algeria hostage crisis, where 10 Japanese nationals were among three dozen foreign workers killed during the four-day siege of the desert gas plant.

Similar legislation was presented to parliament six years ago when Abe served his first term as prime minister, but it was dropped after his resignation.

Under the security council framework, the prime minister, chief Cabinet secretary, foreign and defense ministers would meet regularly to hammer out strategy, while relevant ministers would be called together to respond to emergency situations.

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