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Gov’t to establish new counterterrorism center ahead of 2020 Olympics

TOKYO — The Japanese government decided Monday to establish a counterterrorism information center next summer to strengthen anti-terrorism steps ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.


The organization will bring together officials from 11 government entities, including the Foreign Ministry and National Police Agency, as Japan will host major international events over the next several years such as the 2020 Tokyo Games and the 2019 Rugby World Cup.


The officials will share the information that each entity comes across in its work and analyze clues about potential attacks to thwart them in advance.


The establishment of the center is at the core of a set of counterterrorism guidelines approved by the government’s task force on international organized crime and terrorism, headed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.


“The whole government will come together to advance these measures, overcoming the boundaries between ministries and agencies,” Suga said at a press conference.


The guidelines also contain a clear commitment to protecting “soft targets” where people may assemble in great numbers, such as public transport facilities or event venues.


They provide for a new specialized team to be set up within the transport ministry to deal with counterterrorism on rail and air transport.


Under the guidelines, the government will also devote resources to combating vehicle attacks on pedestrians, such as have taken place in Europe and the United States.


It will work to prevent terrorists from setting up bases to plan attacks by cracking down on illegal private lodgings and urging operators of internet cafes — which in Japan can be used as ad hoc accommodation — to thoroughly confirm the identities of people using them.


The guidelines also include strengthening security checks at airports, including by bringing in equipment like body scanners.

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