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Japan's lower house OKs bill to set up NSC

Updated: 2013-11-07 16:37
( Xinhua)

TOKYO - The House of Representatives of Japan passed a bill for the establishment of a US-style National Security Council (NSC) in the country, local media reported.

The bill will be sent to the House of Councilors for approval, with the government seeking its passage before the current extraordinary Diet session ends on Dec 6.

Kyodo News reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sees the NSC as vital to better respond to the changing security environment in Asia, which will enhance power of the prime minister's office.

Under the new framework, the prime minister, the chief Cabinet secretary, and foreign and defense ministers will meet twice a month to discuss security issues. By gathering information from various ministries and agencies, the NSC could respond to security issue more quickly and effectively.

The NSC's head office will be set up within the Cabinet Secretariat to streamline policy planning and bolster coordination among different government entities, with Abe's foreign policy advisor Shotaro Yachi floated as a candidate to lead the body.

To make full use of the NSC, the government is also seeking passage of another bill to toughen penalties for leakers of "special secrets", or sensitive information related to diplomacy, defense, terrorism and espionage.

The bill for the secrecy law has already gained Cabinet approval with the lower house starting deliberations on the bill.

Meanwhile there still exists opposition voice about the NSC. Some critics and opposition lawmakers argued the government to tighten controls on information under this framework.