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Politics

Japan to add economic team to National Security Council

Expanded body to coordinate with US on investment and tech rules

The prime minister's official residence in Tokyo: Bringing economy-related security issues under the National Security Council's purview will allow for easier international coordination under the prime minister's direction.

TOKYO -- The Japanese government will expand its National Security Council with a team of economic advisers who will help review investment, telecommunications and other rules in coordination with the U.S.

Tokyo will add a fourth senior post to the council's secretariat as early as this year, to be filled by an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The new economic team will comprise about 10 officials with expertise in such fields as cybersecurity and energy.

The additions to a body that had been staffed mainly by defense and foreign affairs officials reflect the increased importance of such issues as technology and intellectual property protection in today's security landscape, given the rise of China.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government will face the challenge of ensuring that its scrutiny does not hamper business.

Economy-related national security topics had fallen under the purview of the Cabinet Secretariat. Moving this responsibility to the council's secretariat -- which is legally obligated to maintain confidentiality -- will make it easier to coordinate with the U.S. and other partners under the prime minister's direction.

Other areas for review include guidelines for cybersecurity and universities.

The U.S. National Security Council has sections covering such topics as advanced technology, cybersecurity and international economic affairs.

Alleged violations of intellectual property rights by China are among the main concerns that spurred the change in Tokyo. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence highlighted this issue in a speech last week where he accused Beijing of continuing to "aid and abet the theft of our intellectual property."

Pence also voiced concern about China's "military-civilian fusion" policy, which could let Beijing use stolen technology to bolster its armed forces.

The Japanese government will put together a framework soon for preventing technology leaks. As part of this plan, it will propose in the current session that would let the government block acquisitions of sensitive technology. This is modeled on a similar measure in the U.S.

Abe's long-serving national security adviser, Shotaro Yachi, recently stepped down and was succeeded by top intelligence officer Shigeru Kitamura.

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