Prime Minister Shinzo Abe kicked off a study panel Friday tasked with establishing a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council, vowing to enhance the flow of information and consolidate command under the prime minister’s office.
Citing the increasingly threatening security situation surrounding Japan, Abe said it is important to set up an office to manage everyday security situations strategically under his leadership.
“I would like to create an environment that allows strong political leadership to react swiftly to numerous issues surrounding our national security,” Abe said at the start of the meeting.
This is Abe’s second effort to launch a security council. During his first stint as the prime minister in 2006, he set up a similar panel, but a bill aimed at establishing the council was later scrapped.
Abe is renewing his effort to create a sophisticated national security regime especially in light of the nation’s failure to gather solid information during the hostage crisis last month at an Algerian gas plant that left 10 Japanese nationals dead.
Abe aide Yosuke Isozaki, who is part of the 13-member panel, said discussions will focus on how to cut through Japan’s various layers of bureaucracy to expedite intelligence-gathering. Abe is especially keen to break the sectionalism between ministries that prevents diverse information from reaching the prime minister’s office.
“Some people argue that it’s not good to integrate the policymaking body and information-collecting organization, in order to have unbiased information,” said Isozaki. “But it does not mean the (proposed security council) would not have any intelligence-gathering role.”
Isozaki also said the panel will consider how far its crisis-management authority can extend beyond its policymaking role.
The group is scheduled to meet monthly. Chief Cabinet Yohihide Suga, who is on the panel, said Thursday that it will not take much time to compile legislation that could be submitted during the current Diet session to create the council.
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