• Kyodo

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The Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling bloc is expected to agree that the Cabinet should be allowed to approve Self-Defense Forces deployments by phone to speed up responses to “gray zone” national security incidents, a senior source in the administration said.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushing for a “seamless” manner to respond to security threats, the ruling coalition began talks on security-related legislation on Friday.

“Gray zone incidents” refer to national security threats that stop short of full military attacks. One example the government uses is a scenario in which an armed group disguised as fishermen takes control of a remote Japanese island.

Senior members of the ruling parties are expected to discuss whether to allow the Cabinet to send troops out by phone, among other matters, the source said Thursday.

The Cabinet decided last July to review the procedures to ensure the Self-Defense Forces can be sent swiftly to address low-intensity scenarios, although the primary responsibility for handling such incidents lies with the police and Japan Coast Guard.

The proposed method would speed up military dispatches.

Cabinet ministers usually gather at the prime minister’s office to approve important policy matters. Another method is for each minister to supply an official signature without making such a visit.

Over the course of weekly coalition talks, the LDP and Komeito hope to hammer out an outline of the Abe administration’s new security legislation, which will also controversially legalize the use of collective self-defense.

As an example of ways Japan might exercise that right, the parties will cover topics ranging from gray zone scenarios and providing logistic support for foreign forces, to mine-sweeping operations.

After gaining approval from the ruling coalition, the government aims, after the Golden Week holidays in early May, to submit a series of security-linked bills to the Diet before it closes on June 24.

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