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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 April 4 - 10  > Cabinet approves bill to establish ‘NSC’ modeled after U.S.
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2007 April 4 - 10 [POLITICS]

Cabinet approves bill to establish ‘NSC’ modeled after U.S.

April 7, 2007
The Cabinet on April 6 approved a bill to establish what would become a Japanese-version of the U.S. “National Security Council,” the aim being to strengthen the functions of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in dealing with the nation’s diplomatic and military affairs.

The government and the ruling parties plan to have the law enacted in the current session of the Diet with the view of launching the NSC in April next year in the first major restructuring of the NSC since its establishment in 1986.

The bill calls for the establishment of a system that will enable the prime minister, the chief cabinet secretary, the foreign minister, and the defense minister to hold speedy and in-depth discussions on national security matters, with a provision to create a special assistant to the prime minister in charge of national security affairs.

It also proposes maintaining the existing NSC framework consisting of 9 cabinet ministers for discussing the National Defense Program Outline and other related issues.

The NSC, modeled after the U.S. National Security Council that gives the U.S. president enormous powers to make decisions on foreign and military affairs, will be the “control tower” for Japan to fight wars abroad under U.S. command.

In his first policy speech in September last year, Abe stated that the role of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence as the “control tower” would be enhanced. The establishment of the framework consisting of the prime minister and three other cabinet ministers is aimed at giving Abe greater power to make swift decisions.

Observers say that Abe is trying to use the Japanese NSC as conduit for maintaining smooth communications between the White House and the Prime Minister’s Official Residence as part of the effort to give “the U.S.-Japan alliance” a greater role to play in the interest of the world and Asia.

Also, a report issued in February by a panel discussing ways to enhance the functions of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence stressed the importance of protecting NSC-related security secrets. It said, “A law will be needed to punish anyone who leaks classified information.”

The Liberal Democratic Party’s General Affairs Council on April 3l approved the NSC bill after agreeing to submit a bill to protect national secrets to be enacted by next spring.
With the scope of its target of secret protection left undefined, the secret protection bill, if enacted, could give the government more power to control information.

Although under the plan, the Japanese NSC will consist of a smaller number of ministers and staff members, there is a danger that a handful of people will discuss diplomatic and military policies based on information considered convenient to them.
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