Japan is set to launch an anti-terrorism intelligence unit next with the country preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga announced today that the special unit would be set up within the foreign ministry.
The launch of International Counterterrorism Intelligence Collection Unit has been advanced by four months from April due to the deadly attacks in Paris.
According to Suga, Japan needed to step up intelligence gathering as a crucial part of anti-terrorism effort ''amid a severe safety situation,'' Suga said. ''We will make an all-out effort across the country to prevent terrorism.''
According to Suga, intelligence-gathering staff trained in languages and other skills would be sent to areas susceptible to terrorist activities, including parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East and northwestern Africa.
The unit would include officials from the foreign and defence ministries, as also National Police Agency and the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office.
For the time being, around 20 people would be assigned to the unit, while the foreign ministry would assign special staff to its embassies.
The Japanese government had set up an anti-terrorism panel for discussing ways of boosting public safety and intelligence following the kidnapping and killing of two Japanese nationals by Islamic State extremists earlier this year.
Intelligence-gathering staff would be deployed in areas susceptible to terrorist activities, including parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East and northwestern Africa, according to Suga.
Intelligence gathering for use in counterterrorism was a new area that Japan needed to concentrate on and add more resources, according to Keiichi Ono, director of the foreign ministry's management and coordination division.
"There is a growing need to gather intelligence that could affect Japan. Japan cannot remain unrelated to any threat of terrorism, even if it's outside the country or not directly affecting us," AP quoted him as saying.
About 20 experts will join the unit in Tokyo at the launch, while 20 others will be assigned to Japanese embassies and other overseas posts as intelligence officers, Ono said.