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2ND LD: Abe calls for launching Japanese version of U.S. NSC.

TOKYO, Feb. 27 Kyodo

(EDS: RECASTING, ADDING INFO)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday he will try to enact laws during ongoing Diet sessions through June to set up a Japanese version of the White House's National Security Council to discuss key diplomatic and national security issues with an eye to launch it in April next year.

His comments came after a key government panel proposed earlier in the day that the prime minister, chief Cabinet secretary, foreign minister and defense minister should form the NSC.

The issue of exercising the right to collective self-defense, which is banned under the pacifist Constitution, may be discussed at the planned NSC, Abe told reporters after receiving the proposal. ''We will study the issue at the council if necessary,'' he said.

The Japanese government believes that Japan has the right to collective self-defense, or using force to counter an armed attack on an ally, but is banned from exercising the right under the Constitution.

According to the proposal submitted to Abe after three months of discussion, the new council will take over the functions of the existing nine-member Security Council of Japan. The participation of some Cabinet ministers in the council is seen by many as a mere formality.

The 14-member panel called for revising related laws at the ongoing regular session of the Diet and also proposed establishing new legislation to strengthen punishment of information leaks to tighten protection of national secrets.

It proposed defining the new body's duties as discussing Japan's basic positions on important diplomatic and national security affairs, on key diplomatic and national security policies involving several ministries and agencies, and on responses in the event of contingencies.

The panel proposed convening the body at least twice a month.

It called for the participation of five other ministers -- the finance minister, the land minister, the trade minister, the communications minister and the chairman of the National Public Safety Commission -- only when discussing Japan's long-term defense programs and responses to foreign attacks on Japan.

The members are the same as in the current Security Council of Japan.

The proposal termed the maintenance of state secrets as ''the most important theme in ensuring the country's national security'' and pointed to the need to establish legislation as early as possible to take tough action against both providers and recipients of such secrets.

It proposed requiring the special adviser to the prime minister on national security affairs to be present at council meetings and to regularly report to and deepen communications with the premier.

The proposal also called for establishing a secretariat of about 10-20 personnel and for picking secretariat members from uniformed officers of the Self-Defense Forces or from the private sector.

The post of chief of the secretariat would be concurrently served by the premier's special adviser on national security affairs but will be filled by a separate figure if the special adviser is a member of the Diet.

Currently, Yuriko Koike, who is a member of the panel, serves as Abe's special adviser on national security affairs.

The two deputy chief of the secretariat posts would be concurrently held by assistant chief Cabinet secretaries in charge of foreign policy and crisis management.

Nominally headed by Abe, the panel is led by Nobuo Ishihara, a former deputy chief Cabinet secretary. Among the members are former Finance Minister Masajuro Shiokawa, former career diplomats Hisahiko Okazaki and Shunji Yanai, military affairs commentator Kazuhisa Ogawa, and Atsuyuki Sassa, a former career policeman who is known as an authority on crisis management.

Meanwhile, the White House's Deputy National Security Adviser Jack Crouch met with Japanese Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma and Koike, on Tuesday.

Crouch, speaking to reporters after the meeting with Koike, said, ''We also spent quite a bit of time talking about the new Japan NSC concept and we compared notes, and look forward to a close and deep collaboration between the two organizations in support of the U.S.-Japan global alliance.''
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Date:Mar 5, 2007
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