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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Intelligence-gathering must be centralized, panel says


Staff writer

The government needs to centralize its intelligence to be able to report the most important information to the proposed National Security Council, according to a government panel's interim report, released Wednesday.

The panel on intelligence-gathering has come up with proposals to provide assistance to the prime minister on issues of national security, including terrorist and nuclear threats.

Creating a security council was one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's key pledges when he took office in September, saying it would help him expedite policymaking.

A separate panel on national security issues, comprised of defense and diplomacy experts, proposed Tuesday that the proposed council be modeled after the U.S. National Security Council and that it be made up of four permanent members -- the prime minister, the chief Cabinet secretary, the foreign minister and the defense minister.

"We have focused on how to create a system that will properly provide intelligence and the highest level of analysis of it to the policymaking side," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, chairman of the intelligence-gathering panel, told a news conference.

The panel's interim report proposes the existing Joint Intelligence Committee collect intelligence from the different ministries. Intelligence experts then would analyze the data and compile regular reports for the NSC. The prime minister would appoint these experts from the ministries, government officials said.

The intelligence committee consists of senior officials from several bodies and agencies.



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