Japan govt consolidates intel on terrorism

It is said that Japan, which does not have an independent organisation for gathering external intelligence, lacks information on international terrorism.

When two Japanese were being held hostage by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant extremist militant group in January this year, the Japanese government apparently depended on foreign governments, including that of Jordan, for intelligence gathering.

With measures to strengthen the prevention of terrorism that were decided Friday, the Japanese government is aiming to improve the system by consolidating intelligence on international terrorism.

However, there remain problems to overcome. Until now, terrorism intelligence gathering has been conducted separately by each ministry and agency, such as the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the Public Security Intelligence Agency, the National Police Agency and the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office.

Territoriality between the Foreign Ministry and the NPA is so strong that the two have "have almost no connection," according to ministry sources. It is likely that the NPA and the ministry had a tug-of-war regarding the establishment of the intelligence-gathering unit on international terrorism. It has been decided that the unit will be set up in the Foreign Ministry.

An official of the NPA has already pointed out a problem by saying: "[The unit] is not an independent external intelligence organ like the U. S. Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's Secret Intelligence Service [commonly known as MI6]. So it's not certain whether the unit will be recognised as their counterpart."

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita will be the virtual top of the unit, and it has been decided that all of its members will concurrently serve as members of the Cabinet Secretariat. As a result, it is likely that intelligence aggregation to the Prime Minister's Office will progress further.

To serve as a mediator between overseas intelligence organs, intelligence-gathering personnel with linguistic abilities are indispensable. However, sources of such personnel, aside from those for English-speaking regions, have been limited to the Foreign Ministry.

It is also difficult to foster "intelligence professionals" under the current bureaucratic personnel system, which changes personnel every several years. Reforming the system for fostering personnel will need to be discussed in the future.