Abe tasks panel to form security body like NSC

by Hiroko Nakata

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of the prime minister’s office that will give orders on diplomatic and national security policy,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said.

One of Abe’s priorities has been to create a body similar to the U.S. National Security Council. It would act as a central information-gathering body that would also issue directives on security matters.

Some government sources said a security committee here would look more like the group in Britain, which is smaller than the one in the U.S. and works with the Cabinet.

Tension in the region has risen since North Korea’s July missile tests and Oct. 9 nuclear test. There are also growing fears Japan will become a target for terrorist attacks.

The advisory committee will meet twice a month, starting Nov. 22, to hammer out a final plan for the new security body by the end of February.

The 14 members include Abe, who will chair the committee; Shiozaki; Yuriko Koike, Abe’s special adviser on security issues; Masajuro Shiokawa, a former finance minister and chief Cabinet secretary; Shunji Yanai, a former vice foreign minister; Nobuo Ishihara, a former deputy chief Cabinet secretary; Atsuyuki Sassa, a former director of the Cabinet Security Affairs Office; and Kazuhisa Ogawa, a defense policy analyst.

Experts have criticized Japan for not gathering national security information in a central location. Currently, critical intelligence is spread among the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Agency and information that Cabinet ministers gather through their jobs.

There is opposition from senior bureaucrats who do not want decision-making power to be taken out of their departments. Abe told reporters the panel will discuss ways to cooperate with foreign and defense officials.

The prime minister’s office has few staffers assigned to the new project. Koike currently has only two people working in her office.

“The staff is being limited” in Koike’s office, Abe said. “In spite of that, I want them to get good results in their limited situation.”