• Kyodo

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A bill to create the post of vice defense minister for international affairs cleared the Diet on Friday, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to give Japan a greater security role overseas.

The vice defense minister will become Japan’s envoy at bilateral and multilateral security talks. Currently, the administrative vice minister or a departmental director general represents Japan at such conferences.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has told the Diet the new post would allow Japan to “discuss on an equal footing with other countries important issues, such as disaster relief, maritime security and joint development of defense equipment.”

Onodera said at a news conference Friday the newly created post requires diplomatic skill and that the ministry would move swiftly to appoint someone to it.

The bill also promotes personal exchanges between the Self-Defense Forces and the Defense Ministry that would enable up to 40 SDF members to take posts at the ministry at any one time.