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Japan Drafting Laws for a US-style National Security Council

May. 30, 2013 - 07:19PM   |  
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TOKYO — The Japanese government will move as early as next week to propose legislation to establish a National Security Council (NSC) headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, according to a source familiar with the issue.

“The Abe administration is moving to submit legislation to the [Japanese national] Diet to form the NSC maybe as early as next Friday [June 7], or failing that, in the following week,” the source said.

The move follows the sixth and final meeting on May 28 of a panel of experts called the Advisory Council on the Establishment of a National Security Council. The panel consists of former high-ranking defense officials, academics and representatives from think thanks and was set up by Abe in February to hammer out the structure and position powers of the NSC.

According to the May 28 final report, laws will be drafted to establish two bodies designed to speed up Japan’s ability to respond to security issues, particularly crisis situations, by enhancing the flow of information to an executive body, the NSC, which will be chaired by the prime minister.

The NSC will consist of the prime minister, the chief Cabinet secretary, and the foreign and defense secretaries, and will assume executive authority for both emergency and strategic security issues.

Top-level security issues are currently controlled by the nine-member Security Council of Japan. A second body, an ad hoc Ministers Emergency Council, will be established to deal more swiftly with emergency situations and disasters.

The Security Council has been the main venue to discuss important national defense issues, but has been seen as unwieldy and riddled with factionalism between competing ministries.

Recently, the government faced widespread criticism in Japan for responding slowly to several recent emergency situations. For example, this January, the government was slow to respond after a People’s Republic of China Navy ship locked its fire-control radar onto a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel in ongoing tensions between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu in China, located between Japan, Taiwan and China in the East China Sea.

Advisory Council panel member Masashi Nishihara, who is president of the Research Institute for Peace and Security think thank, declined comment on the upcoming legislation, citing restrictions placed on council members regarding talking to the media.

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