• Kyodo

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The Ground Self-Defense Force has been studying the idea of jointly operating its secret intelligence unit and special units to engage in overseas hostage rescues, infiltrations, target surveillance and base attacks since around 2008, former senior defense officials said Monday.

The existence of the intelligence unit was reported in November. It has been secretly gathering intelligence abroad since the Cold War without informing the prime minister, who is the commander-in-chief of the Self-Defense Forces, or the defense minister — a practice viewed as undermining civilian control.

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