Japan will set up hotlines to Washington and London to boost cooperation with its allies when its new US-style National Security Council (NSC) starts work, a report said yesterday.
The council, which is set to come into operation today, gives the prime minister’s office greater authority at a time when Japan is grappling with the shifting balance of power in East Asia.
Its first meeting, to be attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and the ministers of defense and foreign affairs, will discuss mid to long-term security strategies and defense guidelines, Suga told reporters yesterday.
Next month, the council will set up a 60-strong secretariat whose offices will have dedicated lines to its opposite numbers in the US and Britain, the business daily Nikkei Shimbun reported, without citing sources.
The head of the secretariat, Abe’s special adviser, Shotaro Yachi, will stay there on a permanent basis, it said, bringing a constant point of contact.
Under the present system the defense minister, the foreign minister and the chief Cabinet secretary separately contact their US and British counterparts to discuss security issues, the paper said.
Establishing the security council has been a priority for Abe since he came to power in December last year, and comes as Tokyo is involved in an increasingly bitter standoff with Beijing over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan, where they are known as the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
Japan will also ask Australia, France, Germany, India, South Korea and Russia to create hotlines with the council to address threats from North Korea and China, as well as cyberattacks and other security concerns, the Nikkei said.
An official at the Cabinet office declined to confirm the report, citing the sensitive nature of the issue, but Suga has said the council will closely cooperate with its foreign counterparts.