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2015年11月20日 (金)

国内テロ対策 水際を固めて発生を阻止せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prevent international terrorist attacks by strengthening border controls
国内テロ対策 水際を固めて発生を阻止せよ

It is urgently required to establish a system to gather intelligence on foreign terrorists, and to prevent terrorist attacks in Japan.

Immediately after returning from a summit meeting of the Group of 20 major economies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended a meeting of the National Security Council. “I want all of you to implement every possible measure to prevent a terrorist attack from occurring,” Abe told the council.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) extremist group, which carried out the simultaneous terrorist attacks in Paris last week, has named Japan as one of its targets. Given that Japan will host the Ise-Shima summit meeting of Group of Seven nations next year and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the implementation of effective countermeasures cannot be put off any longer.

The targets of the Paris terrorist attacks included a theater and sports stadium where many and unspecified civilians assemble. Such places are often called “soft targets,” and the security measures in place tend to be less rigorous than at government institutions and other facilities.

Japan also has many places that could be considered soft targets. Security measures are needed, such as screening the personal belongings of people entering such places, but it is impossible for every facility to conduct increased security checks.

The important thing is not to allow terrorists to enter Japan. To ensure this, intelligence on individual terrorists and international terrorist organizations will be essential. The success or failure of countermeasures implemented at the nation’s borders will hinge on the extent to which such intelligence can be acquired beforehand.

Time is of the essence

ISIL has murdered two Japanese hostages. In response to these killings, the government decided in May to set up an “international terrorism intelligence-gathering unit” within the Foreign Ministry.

This organization will be led by the Prime Minister’s Office and collect terrorist information to be shared among all relevant branches of the government. The initial plan was to launch the unit in spring 2016, but the government reportedly will consider bringing this date forward.

It has been pointed out that Japan, which does not have an independent foreign intelligence agency, possesses scant intelligence on terrorists and terrorism. Enforcement of the law to protect specially designated state secrets should help rectify this weakness. We hope the intelligence-gathering unit will quickly get into action and strengthen ties with foreign intelligence services.

The number of foreigners visiting Japan for tourism and other reasons is expected to increase in the years ahead. Immigration checks at airports and other points of entry must swiftly detect any suspicious people.

The Justice Ministry plans to create a database of facial images of known terrorists and in the next fiscal year introduce at every international airport in Japan a system that can instantly check each visitor’s face against these photos. Combined with checks of fingerprints taken during entry to Japan, this system must be made to function effectively.

With regard to combating organized crime, there has been debate over the pros and cons of establishing conspiracy as a crime, allowing people to be punished for planning to commit a serious crime. Some observers have also advocated the broader monitoring of communications, which current laws only allow to be conducted within a severely restricted scope.

We hope the government will craft effective policies while giving due consideration to human rights.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 19, 2015)


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