A Liberal Democratic Party project team plans to call on the Abe administration to set up a new body to expand Japan’s ability to gather information abroad to combat terrorism, according to LDP sources.
The move comes amid growing concern about terrorism ahead of a Group of Seven summit in Mie Prefecture next May, the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The government launched the Counterterrorism Unit-Japan within the Foreign Ministry earlier this month to collect information on international terrorism.
Some government officials have floated the idea of upgrading the unit to the level of an intelligence organization such as the CIA or Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6.
But the LDP project team pointed out that such an upgrade could be linked in the public’s mind to Japan’s wartime Special Higher Police, or Tokko, which was in charge of investigating political groups and ideologies deemed a threat to public order, the sources said.
Some within the government believe creating such an intelligence organization could negatively impact the ruling camp, including the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, in next summer’s Upper House election.
The project team plans to include in its proposal keeping the envisioned intelligence agency under strict Diet supervision, by extending the authority of existing parliamentary functions for fair implementation of secrecy legislation that came into effect a year ago under the new state secrets law.
The team is planning to submit the proposal after taking into account how expanded intelligence activities are viewed by the public, the sources said.
The team decided to start discussions on a new intelligence entity last February in the wake of the killing of two Japanese hostages by Islamic State militants in Syria.