• Kyodo

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The government said Monday that Japan will step up counterterrorism cooperation with the United States in the wake of last week’s terrorist attack in southern California.

“Our country will continue efforts to prevent terrorism in close cooperation with the United States and the international community,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in response to President Barack Obama’s condemnation of the case as “an act of terrorism.”

“I express my condolences to all the victims and their families, and extend my sympathies to the injured,” Suga said at a news conference.

The top government spokesman was referring to Wednesday’s shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14 people and wounded 21. The rampage occurred just after the deadly Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

“Japan expresses its solidarity with the U.S. government and people,” he said. “Terrorism must never be tolerated for any reason and we resolutely condemn it.”

Suga said the Abe administration will take counterterror measures and ensure the safety of Japanese living and traveling abroad.

In a meeting of Cabinet members and ruling party executives Monday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to boost Japan’s capabilities through the launch Tuesday of a counterterrorism unit led by the prime minister’s office that will be tasked with collecting information on international terrorism.

“With the Ise-Shima (Group of Seven) summit next May in sight, we will take every possible measure to ensure security at ports, airports and other key facilities (in Japan) in close cooperation with the international community,” Abe told the meeting, which was partially open to the media.

The G-7 summit to be held May 26 and 27 in Mie Prefecture will bring together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

In a rare Oval Office address Sunday, Obama designated the San Bernardino shooting as “an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people.”

“So far, we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home,” Obama said.

“But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition and pipe bombs,” he said. “The threat of terrorism is real, but we will overcome it.”

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