New security body may form policymaking core

by Hiroko Nakata

A government panel planning a new, streamlined national security policymaking body agreed Monday that it should form an inner circle of the current Security Council of Japan and look at long-term policy.

It would be comprised of the prime minister and a few Cabinet members, according to the exploratory panel’s chairman, Nobuo Ishihara.

The new body would aim to speed up decision-making on national security policy, bringing together information from a variety of sources.

“We concluded that we should set up a council of core members to discuss national security from a broad and long-term viewpoint,” Ishihara told reporters after a meeting of the panel of defense and diplomatic experts.

Creating a body modeled on the U.S. National Security Council has been one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s major goals since taking office in September. Abe wants the prime minister to have greater policymaking authority.

Ishihara, a former bureaucrat who now heads the Japan Research Institute for Local Government, said the government will revise the legislation on the Security Council of Japan to set up the new body.

The current council, which consists of a minimum of nine members, will remain in place to oversee important national security issues, according to Ishihara.

He said the panel has not yet decided on the composition of the new body, the role of bureaucrats in facilitating its work or what will become of the current special adviser to the prime minister on national security, Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Yuriko Koike.