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Japan to roll out terrorism intelligence unit before year ends


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to have a new intelligence gathering unit on terrorism operational before the year ends, as the international community musters a united front in combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other violent extremist organizations.

“We will boost our counterterrorism measures, and bolstering our intelligence gathering with the international community is a pressing issue,” Abe said in November 2015, according to The Japan Times newspaper.

Initial plans had called for the International Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Collection Unit to begin operation by April 2016. The November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris made combating the threat a greater priority and caused Japanese officials to shorten their timeline.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a notice on its site to hire “expert analysts” temporarily “to study information regarding the Islamic State, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups in Africa and Southeast Asia,” according to Japan Real Time, a blog on The Wall Street Journal newspaper site.

According to Japan Real Time, the job posting — which went up before the Paris attacks — asked that applicants for the analyst job “have knowledge and experience studying terrorist activities in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, and be capable of speaking English. Proficiency in Arabic, French, Indonesian and other local languages are a plus.” Only Japanese nationals are eligible for the position.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said during a November 2015 news conference that in addition to the newly established International Counter-Terrorism Intelligence Collection Unit, he will also appoint to Japanese embassies and consulates abroad “suitable persons who are well versed in international terrorism conditions, local conditions and languages, and thereby strengthen Japan’s intelligence-collection capabilities.”

The unit will have bases in the capital cities of Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia and India, according to The Japan Times.

“I think that there is little doubt there is an urgent need to firmly strengthen our capability to gather intelligence on international terrorism,” the foreign minister said.

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