As expected, the first meeting of Japan’s brand new National Security Council, modeled after the United States, discussed the two subjects that were the reasons for the creation of such an entity: the territorial issues with China and the constant threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The first meeting was held at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office on Wednesday and attended by the four ministers who will be heading the NSC – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso was also present at the meeting.
The four will be meeting twice a month to discuss the basic outline of the country’s first ever comprehensive security policy. They all agreed on the first meeting that they will be bolstering cooperation with the respective NSC’s of the United States and Britain, and hopefully France, Germany and India as well. This is part of Abe‘s move for Japan to play a more important role in global affairs, and to improve information-sharing with other countries. However, the administration also believes that other countries’ cooperation will hinge on the passage of the controversial state secrets bill, which is still pending at the Upper House.
The NSC’s head office will be led by Abe’s foreign policy advisor Shotaro Yachi and will include around 60 officials, mainly from the defense and foreign ministries. With the new NSC head office to be set up under the Cabinet Secretariat next year, the prime minister’s office will now have more leeway in steering defense and foreign policies. For this reason as well, the ruling party bloc is seeking the passage of the secrecy bill which will bring harsher punishment to those who will be convicted of revealing “state secrets,” the definition of which is still unclear at this time. Most probably, all discussion in the NSC meetings will fall under this bill. Critics of this pending legislation fear that this will go against the people’s right to know and press freedom.
[ via Global Post ]