日本版NSC 「外交安保」強化へ縦割り排せ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 17, 2013)
Abe's envisioned security council must be strong, well organized
日本版NSC 「外交安保」強化へ縦割り排せ(2月16日付・読売社説)

Setting up a government command and control body is significant for dealing with various national security issues.

A government panel of experts considering the creation of a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council held its first meeting Friday. With the panel planning to compile a report this spring, the government aims to submit related legislation during the current ordinary Diet session.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has long sought the establishment of a Japanese NSC. This is a second chance for him to take up the challenge.

In April 2007, the first Abe Cabinet submitted a bill to set up such a body to the Diet, but it was scrapped after deliberations on the issue saw little progress due to reasons such as the Liberal Democratic Party's loss in the House of Councillors election in July that year.

Recently, Japan saw a series of incidents that threatened its security, such as North Korea's nuclear test and a Chinese warship directing weapons-targeting radar at a Japanese vessel.

The government's existing security council has lost substance, merely serving as a forum in which the prime minister and other ministers confirm reports from bureaucrats. It is an urgent task to create a real decision-making body in which the prime minister and Cabinet members, including the chief cabinet secretary and foreign and defense ministers, will have substantial discussions on important diplomatic and security matters.


2 key tasks for Japanese NSC

A Japanese NSC would face two crucial tasks.

One is that it will make appropriate political decisions swiftly and give specific orders to better respond to ongoing emergencies. Another is that it will draw up medium- and long-term security strategies and set the direction of the nation's policy and actions to prepare for a crisis.

To that end, it is vital to eliminate the divided administrative functions of the status quo, under which government bodies such as the Foreign and Defense ministries and the police handle security issues separately, and create a new system that will enable all government entities to work together to support the Prime Minister's Office.

The government already has a body, part of the Cabinet Secretariat, that comprehensively coordinates government policies. It is led by assistant chief cabinet secretaries who deal with security, crisis management and diplomatic issues.

It is unrealistic to think the envisaged Japanese NSC will handle every security issue, and if its functions overlap with the existing entity's, the NSC could create inefficiency in government functions. The secretariat of the Japanese NSC basically should be small and staffed with capable personnel while being designed to take full control of relevant ministries and agencies.


Enhance intelligence capability

It is important to enhance the ability of the whole government in gathering and analyzing information, a precondition for making policies.

The recent hostage crisis in Algeria highlighted the difficulty in obtaining information on terrorism and military affairs in developing countries. It is essential for the government to increase the number of intelligence experts and train such personnel in the medium- and long-term.

We also call for reforms of the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, which supervises information handled by the whole government. Regarded as an "outpost of the National Policy Agency," the office's current role is far from its original task of allowing government bodies to share and best utilize key information.

The government also needs to develop a legal basis for counterintelligence to prevent sensitive information provided by the United States and other countries from being leaked.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 16, 2013)
(2013年2月16日01時50分  読売新聞)

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