• Kyodo

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Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plan to launch a high-level dialogue later this year to explore ways to cope with transnational organized crime and terrorism, a Japanese government official said on Wednesday.

The dialogue, to be launched in Malaysia as early as June, comes as travel between Japan and ASEAN countries, some of which have groups that support Islamic State militants, is on the rise.

The announcement follows the recent killing of two Japanese nationals by the Islamic State group and reflects Japan’s desire to ensure security for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

The upcoming talks will be co-chaired by Tsukasa Kawada, ambassador in charge of cooperation for countering terrorism and international organized crime, and head of the Malaysian delegation.

The new framework will be based on the annual Japan-ASEAN anti-terror dialogue that has been in place since 2006, and cover transnational crimes, which often become the main financial sources of militant groups, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Concerns are mounting in such countries as Indonesia and the Philippines about the emergence of extremist groups expressing support for Islamic State and their involvement in terrorism in the region.

The meeting will focus on counterterrorism measures such as exchanging travel information on people considered dangerous and improving legal systems to crack down on crime.

Ways to share information on the prevention of illegal drug transactions, human trafficking, money laundering and arms smuggling will also be discussed.

Last November, Japan and ASEAN adopted a joint statement confirming their cooperation on terrorism and transnational crime.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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