In the wake of last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered relevant government organizations to step up their efforts to prevent terrorist attacks in Japan as the nation prepares to host the Group of Seven summit next year and the Summer Olympic Games in 2020. While it is crucial to beef up Japan’s defense against terrorist attacks, the government needs to take utmost care to ensure that any increase in surveillance and expansion of the tools of criminal investigation does not infringe on citizens’ privacy and freedoms.

At a meeting Tuesday of Cabinet ministers in charge of anti-terrorism measures, Abe emphasized that the prime minister’s office would serve as the headquarters to push forward necessary steps. His administration plans to strengthen the government’s capabilities for overseas intelligence gathering and protection of Japanese citizens abroad, and beef up security at home. A new unit was set up the same day at the Foreign Ministry to collect information about international terrorist activities, as was a council of senior bureaucrats from relevant ministries and agencies, headed by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, in the prime minister’s office.

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