Japan to draw up national security strategy: Abe

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed his Cabinet ministers on Tuesday to draw up a national security strategy to respond to the severe security environment around Japan.

"The security environment around Japan has become all the more severe," Abe was quoted by a Japanese government official as telling Cabinet ministers at the prime minister's office.

"We need to ensure national security by defining our national interests from a long-term perspective. We will formulate our security policy with the primary focus on foreign and defense policies," Abe said.

The ministers involved in the crafting process include Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said.

The government will convene a meeting of the ministers and experts in foreign and defense policies on Thursday, a day after the first anniversary of Japan's purchase of a major portion of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea from a Japanese private owner.

Seko told a press conference on Tuesday that Japan's national security policy needs to be more "strategic and systematic" and that the formulation of the strategy, the first of its kind for Japan, will be "meaningful" in raising awareness about security not only in Japan but also in neighboring countries.

Japan is concerned by security threats posed by China and North Korea, as Beijing has continued to send patrol airplanes and ships to areas near the Senkaku Islands in apparent protest against Japan's control over the isles that China also claims and calls Diaoyu.

The Defense Ministry is expected to compile new defense program guidelines by the end of the year. Seko said Tokyo needs to craft the new national security strategy in view of the guidelines that will define Japan's long-term defense policy.

To boost the leadership of the prime minister's office in crafting the security policy, the government aims to create a Japanese version of the U.S. National Security Council. The new body will be set up within the prime minister's office to regularly provide expert analysis and advice on national security matters to the prime minister and Cabinet ministers.