(Nikkei: November 19, 2015 – p.4)
The government began beefing up counterterrorism measures following the simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris. It originally planned to establish in April next year a special team for gathering information on international terrorism. Now the administration will move up the schedule to February. Tokyo will also increase the number of immigration inspectors at local airports to tighten border control. The government will expedite the preparation for the G7 summit (Ise-Shima Summit) to be held in May next year.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met with Mie Prefectural Governor Eikei Suzuki on Nov. 18 at the ministry. “The government will make counterterrorism measure flawless by collaborating with relevant ministries and agencies and will do its best to make the summit successful,” promised Kishida in response to the governor’s urge to beef up counterterrorism measure for the summit.
There was a gunfight on Nov. 18 in a suburb of Paris between the French police and a group of perpetrators of the terrorist attacks. The Crisis Management Center under the Prime Minister’s Official Residence gathered information on the shoot-out. In a meeting of the National Security Council convened on Nov. 17, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed relevant ministers “to take all possible means in information gathering and security measures.” The central pillar of the beef-up is ” the International Terrorism Information Gathering Unit” to be established within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA).
Currently, several different organizations are involved in international counterterrorism across the government. They include MOFA, the Ministry of Defense, the Cabinet Information Research Office, and the National Police Agency. The new unit will be comprised of personnel gathered from all those organizations. They will be divided into several teams by region such as the Middle East and Southeast Asia for information gathering, sharing, and analysis. The unit will have about 20 personnel at first. The personnel will take the new position concurrently with that of the Cabinet Information Research Office.
Originally, the government aimed to establish the new unit in April next year with FY 2016 funding. However, following the simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris, now the government is adjusting the plan to incorporate the funding into the FY 2015 supplementary budget. Depending on the timing of the passage of the supplementary budget bill, the new unit could be established as early as February. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita talked with MOFA Vice Minister Akitaka Saiki and others on Nov. 18 about the new unit.
Border control will be the primary focus in the “security measures” that Abe mentioned in the NSC meeting. Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki instructed the Immigration Bureaus across the country to thoroughly inspect passports to detect forged ones.
In the FY 2016 budgetary request, the ministry has requested that the number of immigration inspectors be increased from the current 4,145 to 4,424. If the request is improved, the new inspectors will be assigned to local international airports. In the meantime, while the face recognition system and the automated gates will be used for the immigration inspection of Japanese tourists, inspectors will check foreign tourists.
The government revised the Civil Aviation Law in the last Diet session following the incident in April in which a drone loaded with a minuscule quantity of a radioactive substance was found on the roof of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence. The revised law will be enacted effective Dec. 10. Under the revised law, a license will be required to fly a drone in densely inhabited districts with more than 4,000 people per 1 square kilometer, near airports, or at night. (Slightly Abridged)