Japan accelerates anti-terror unit introduction after Paris attacks
Japan has moved up the launch of an anti-terrorism intelligence unit after the deadly attacks in Paris.
The unit will be set up within the Foreign Ministry next week, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
It will involve staff from the foreign and defence ministries, the National Police Agency and the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, Japan's equivalent of the CIA.
Intelligence-gathering staff will be sent to areas susceptible to terrorist activities, including parts of south-east Asia, the Middle East and north-western Africa, Mr Suga said.
He cited a "severe safety situation" in the world.
The push to improve anti-terrorism intelligence has gained urgency as Japan prepares to host a G7 summit next year, and the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
The office, called the Counterterrorism Unit-Japan, was originally to be launched in April, but was moved up because of the Paris attacks, Foreign Ministry officials said.
Intelligence gathering for use in counterterrorism is a new area that Japan needs to concentrate on and add more resources, said Keiichi Ono, director of the Foreign Ministry's management and co-ordination division.
"There is a growing need to gather intelligence that could affect Japan. Japan cannot remain unelated to any threat of terrorism, even if it's outside the country or not directly affecting us," he said.
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, Mr Ono said.
Japan earlier set up an anti-terrorism panel to discuss ways to boost public safety and intelligence after two Japanese were kidnapped and killed by Islamic State this year in Syria.
Until then, Japan had rarely been a target of such attacks. But concerns are rising as Tokyo, a top US ally, seeks a larger international military role under prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Mr Ono said the intelligence-gathering staff will not be like those in spy movies.
"We do not plan any activity deemed illegal," he said.