Defense Ministry to set up foreign liaison post

Kyodo

The Defense Ministry plans to establish a vice ministerial-level post for handling discussions with other countries on exchanges and strategic dialogue, a government official said Sunday.

The plan will be part of the ministry’s institutional reform scheme to be released later this month. The government plans to include the appropriations for the new post in its budget request for fiscal 2014 and to push for the needed legal revisions , the official said.

Talks with foreign defense authorities are usually handled by the vice minister or the director generals of certain bureaus. But to handle such issues as the joint development of weapons with Britain and France, along with the usual “two-plus-two” meetings of the foreign and defense chiefs of other countries than the United States, the ministry has determined it needs to set up a high-ranking post specifically for international negotiations.

The new post is aimed at engaging foreign diplomats and defense officials on security issues at a time when Tokyo is studying the possibility of beefing up its capabilities under the new long-term defense program to be crafted by year-end.

The tasks to be handed to the new post are expected to include working-level talks with China on a maritime communication mechanism to avoid contingencies over the Senkaku Islands dispute.