The head of the National Security Secretariat (NSS), a control tower for the government’s foreign and security policies, will be replaced. Shotaro Yachi, 75, a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official who was promoted to Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, will step down as NSS chief in September. Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office (CIRO) chief Shigeru Kitamura, 62, is scheduled to replace him. A MOFA official says: “The appointment clearly doesn’t contribute to Japan’s national interest. Within the ministry there is widespread surprise and shock at the news.”
An official of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) made the following remark: “The NSS serves as a support organization for the National Security Council (NSC), where national policies are determined by the prime minister, the chief cabinet secretary, and the foreign and defense ministers. So it goes without saying that the NSS head requires expertise in foreign affairs and national defense. But Kitamura hails from the National Police Agency (NPA). He is well-versed in domestic affairs but lacks experience in security issues. So we can’t say he is suitable for the job.”
Kitamura, as Director of Cabinet Intelligence, has been leading the CIRO since 2011 and single-handedly undertook the Abe government’s information strategy. His efficient, cool-head way of working has led to his being nicknamed “Eichmann of the Kantei [the Prime Minister’s Office],” likening him to a German officer who played a leading role in the Holocaust.
The aforementioned MOFA official adds: “Kitamura is the government’s ‘undercover agent’ because he knows scandals involving opposition parties and other important domestic information. I think the prime minister’s trust in Kitamura won him appointment to the post of NSS chief. On the other hand, MOFA has recently been made light of by the Kantei and been shut out of policy-making. The ministry is only seen as an attendant to the prime minister when he travels abroad. ‘Political leadership’ sounds nice, but domination by a former NPA bureaucrat reminds us of the prewar control of the government by bureaucrats of the now-defunct Ministry of Home Affairs [which once controlled the police].” (Slightly abridged)