National

Japan must improve intel so firms can prosper: NSA official-turned-CEO

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

With discussion on new security legislation being undertaken after two Japanese hostages were killed by the Islamic State group, a former official of the U.S. National Security Agency said Japan needs to build up intelligence, not just to respond to terrorism but to protect Japan Inc.

Bruce McIndoe, CEO for intelligence-driven risk management consultancy iJet International Inc., said in a recent interview in Tokyo that the government urgently needs to strengthen its security infrastructure to help Japanese firms run safely on a global basis and help the economy gain steam amid a shrinking population and domestic market

But Tokyo isn’t doing enough to that end, according to McIndoe.

“The government needs to step forward and be out there helping those companies globally, not only in economic but security intelligence,” McIndoe said. “Terrorism is just one piece (of the puzzle).”

Japan is “less sophisticated” in terms of security management because it lacks intelligence units to monitor and collect information about what is going on behind the scenes globally, he said.

His comments highlighted Tokyo’s inability to extract journalist Kenji Goto and self-styled security contractor Haruna Yukawa from the clutches of the Islamic State extremists.

McIndoe said Japan lacks “communication tools.” He said Japan could have had more channels to make direct contact with the terrorists if its security intelligence were more sophisticated.

“That’s the source of intelligence, and they might have gotten things to potentially save (the lives of the two hostages),” he said.

The crisis ended in the brutal murders of both. Tokyo’s lack of initiative was exposed when Japanese officials repeatedly said Japan was “incompetent” in handling the crisis and it became clear Jordan was calling the shots.

Using the slayings as a call to action, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration, which knew about the hostages for months before the crisis, is pushing to revise the pacifist Constitution to broaden the legal scope for Self-Defense Forces activities overseas.

Abe has said amending Article 9, which bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes, is essential to protect the lives and assets of Japanese citizens. It also bans Japan from maintaining war potential.

McIndoe said he agrees with Abe and that such discussion is the “transformation that needed to happen” for Japan to become better qualified in dealing with crises overseas and to prosper in the global community.

“I think that is what Abe is trying to say, saying we need to do more so that we have more capability,” McIndoe said. “This event focuses the citizens on why they need to write a check to make it happen. So (the crisis) is a catalyst for bigger need.”

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