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Foreign policy adviser reluctant to take future post

Yachi tapped to head new security council

Kyodo

Foreign policy adviser Shotaro Yachi has been asked to head up Japan’s version of the U.S. National Security Council if the Diet backs its launch, government officials said.

The government considers Yachi, a former vice foreign minister who now advises Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, well qualified to supervise the some 60 officials, including military personnel, who will compile Japan’s policies on diplomacy and security, given his wealth of expertise, they said.

But Yachi, 69, is reluctant to take the post because of his age and his position as a board member at a private company.

Abe will make a final decision on the issue if the Diet passes the bill drafted to create the bureau, which will gather intelligence and speed up decisions on national security.

The body would be set up under the Cabinet Secretariat.

Yachi was the top bureaucrat in the Foreign Ministry during Abe’s brief first stint as prime minister from 2006 to 2007. He focused on promoting strategic relations with China.

If Yachi is unable to take the post, the government may appoint Shin Ebihara, a former ambassador to Britain, sources said.

U.S. clarity on isles urged

New York JIJI

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama should clearly state that the Senkaku Islands, the smoldering ember at the core of Japan-China tensions, belong to Japan, The Wall Street Journal said Friday.

Beijing’s provocations over the islets in the East China Sea, including repeated intrusions by government ships into Japan’s territorial waters around the chain, have “strengthened Tokyo’s alliance with Washington,” the U.S. newspaper said in an editorial titled “The Senkaku Boomerang.”

“Japan has also strengthened its ties with Southeast Asia,” it said, noting that “Smaller regional powers have come to see Tokyo as a potential defender, along with the United States, of the peace against a hegemonic Middle Kingdom.”

Japan’s demonstration of political resolve and military capability is becoming “all the more important” because “the chances of accident, miscalculation or even a shooting incident grow with each Chinese foray near the islands,” the paper said.

The paper pointed out that the question of sovereignty over the chain has been effectively settled since the United States returned the islet to Japan in the 1970s following its seizure of the island chain from the country after World War II.

“The more explicit the Obama administration is that the Senkakus are Japanese, the likelier Beijing is to back down,” the paper said.

Meanwhile, it said, “In (the) long term, there may be a possibility for Japan and China to resolve their differences by freezing the status quo and deferring resolution of the dispute to future generations.”