TOKYO -- The Japanese government decided on Friday to set up a permanent mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to strengthen ties with Europe in the face of a growing threat from North Korea.
The decision comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters in Brussels that he was seriously considering the mission.
The move is part of a major administrative shake-up, in which the central government also decided to reduce the number of people it employees in the fiscal year starting in April 2018, by 446 to 297,376. Information technology and other measures will make up for the cuts, the government said.
On the other hand, Japan will increase the number of immigration and customs officials to handle the growing numbers of foreign tourists coming to the country. The number of anti-terrorism and maritime security personnel will also be increased.
The government also decided to use a pool of nonregular workers it maintains on top of its fixed personnel quotas to fill temporary vacancies caused by employees taking leave to care for aging relatives.
The current system allows only for filling vacancies due to maternity leave. The change is aimed at helping employees achieve a better balance between work and their child care and nursing-care responsibilities.