Japan's new NSC to have hotline with US, Britain: Report

December 03, 2013 - 8:31:15 am

TOKYO: Japan will set up hotlines to Washington and London to boost cooperation with its allies when its new US-style National Security Council starts work, a report said Tuesday.

The NSC, which comes into operation on Wednesday, gives the prime minister's office greater authority at a time Japan is grappling with the shifting balance of power in East Asia.

Its first meeting, to be attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and the ministers of defence and foreign affairs, will discuss mid- to long-term security strategies and defence guidelines, Suga told reporters on Tuesday.

In January, the NSC will set up a 60-strong secretariat whose offices will have dedicated lines to its opposite numbers in the United States and Britain, the business daily Nikkei reported, without citing sources.

The head of the secretariat, Abe's special adviser Shotaro Yachi, will stay there on a permanent basis, it said, bringing a constant point of contact.

Under the present system the defence minister, the foreign minister and the chief cabinet secretary separately contact their US and British counterparts to discuss security issues, the paper said.

Establishing an NSC has been a priority for conservative premier Abe since he came to power last December, and comes as Tokyo is involved in an increasingly bitter stand-off with Beijing over the sovereignty of an island chain.

Japan will also ask Australia, France, Germany, India, South Korea and Russia to create hotlines with its NSC to address threats from North Korea and China as well as cyber attacks and other security concerns, the Nikkei said.

An official at the cabinet office declined to confirm the report citing the sensitive nature of the issue.

But Suga has said the NSC will closely cooperate with its foreign counterparts.

Late last month China announced it was creating an Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea, including over the disputed islands.

Aircraft entering the zone must obey Beijing's orders, it said, or face unspecified "emergency defensive measures" in a move condemned as "inflammatory" around the world.

The report of the NSC comes as US Vice President Joe Biden begins a tour of East Asia, starting with meetings in Tokyo. (AFP)

 

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