As Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gear up to step up security cooperation with India, this time round he will have an additional concern to share with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Although Japan has not been a victim of terrorism so far, Tokyo’s security establishment has zeroed in on risks of homegrown terrorism and the potential threat of the Islamic State. Against this backdrop, India and Japan will be looking to initiate counter-terror cooperation, besides bolstering their defence and security cooperation.
Recently, Japan launched its counterterrorism unit ahead of schedule to shore up the nation’s antiterrorism measures following multiple terrorist attacks in Paris.
The Counterterrorism Unit-Japan (CTU-J), was initially planned for launch in April. It will be tasked with gathering intelligence on terrorists overseas. The CTU-J will reinforce the Prime Minister’s Office, which the government envisages will become Japan’s command center for antiterrorism efforts ahead of the meeting of the Group of Seven countries to be held in Mie Prefecture next May and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga attended the CTU-J’s inauguration ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office. “Eclipsing the boundaries of ministries and agencies, I hope each of you will utilize all of Japan’s resources and do as much as possible to obtain information about international terrorists,” Mr Suga said. The CTU-J will comprise around 20 officials from various government entities including the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the National Police Agency. The government is estimated to use about 126 million yen from its reserve fund for the 2015 budget, to fund its operations. Around 20 more officials to overseas diplomatic missions for antiterrorism purposes, will also be assigned by the Foreign Ministry.
An executive board to collect and consolidate information about international terrorism, chaired by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, and an office to consolidate information about international terrorism, which serves as the secretariat for the executive board were two other government entities that were also established on December 8 to share and analyze information obtained by the CTU-J.
The government will also reinforce monitoring and surveillance on potential homegrown terrorists and cyber-attack defenses in addition to intelligence activities overseas, ahead of the G-7 summit and the Tokyo Games. Raising the issue of combating terrorism during a meeting of Cabinet ministers on December 8 to discuss measures to cope with crimes, Mr Abe said, “We’ve never seen global terrorism in such a severe state.” “To make Japan the world’s safest country, I hope all of those concerned will make all possible efforts,” he added.
The Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the National Police Agency will cooperate proactively on security of diplomatic missions abroad, under the CTU-J. They will also collect and analyze information about terrorists overseas.
“Terrorism threats are not strictly limited to those from overseas, Taro Kono, chairman of the National Public Security Commission, told reporters on December 8 that risks of homegrown terrorists “basically exist” in Japan.” Mr Kono was talking about Japanese nationals that could turn into terrorists with intent to attack the nation.
Mr Kono said there are individuals suspected of being attracted to militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militant group. However, he also added that they were being “properly monitored by police and other authorities.”
To prevent terrorist attacks, Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki emphasised the importance of a bill aiming to reform Japan’s criminal justice system at the Cabinet minister meeting. “The bill’s primary aim is to expand the circumstances in which investigation authorities are allowed to implement wiretapping. The government aims to pass the bill during the ordinary Diet session next year,” Mr Iwaki said. The ministry also stressed the importance of border control measures, like stricter immigration control on those entering Japan.
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