Texas National Security Review Vol 1 Iss3

The Scholar concerns. Unlike its institutional predecessors (e.g., the 1986 Security Council), Japan’s NSC was set up to serve as an advisory committee and as a de facto decision-making body. 61 Having convened on a roughly weekly basis over its rst four years — far outpacing that of any other postwar security institution — the council appears to be proving its mettle as a venue for regular and frequent top- level political deliberations on, and centralized leadership of, Japan’s national security a airs. 62 To support the NSC the Abe government created a National Security Secretariat in January 2014. Headed by a secretary-general and housed within the Cabinet secretariat, its sta averages 70 to 80 personnel. Most are civil servants seconded from the Ministry of Foreign A airs and Ministry of Defense, including some uniformed JSDF personnel. Each individual is assigned to one of six teams — three with functional and three with regional focuses. The secretary-general — widely considered Japan’s de facto national security adviser — sometimes functions as Abe’s personal emissary to foreign leaders. 63 Over the past four years, the secretariat has taken the lead on interagency coordination for major national security documents, most prominently, Japan’s comprehensive National Security Strategy . Replacing the Basic Defense Policy , written in 1957, and re ecting the NSC’s more expansive conceptualization of national security a airs, the National Security Strategy runs the gamut from territorial defense to international energy and cyberspace matters. The strategy’s existence and content re ect the “politics-led, top-down” whole-of-government approach that motivated the creation of the NSC. So, too, does the secretariat’s function as a nexus within the Cabinet for consolidating the policies of Japan’s manifold agencies into a comprehensive national strategy. 64 After nearly ve years, Japan’s NSC appears to have achieved a handful of key objectives. It has done much to address long-standing issues in Japan’s policy decision-making through advancing centralization, political leadership, and whole-of­ government approaches to national security. For these reasons, it is already considered one of the most signi cant security-relevant institutional reforms in Japan’s postwar history. 65 Politicization of Bureaucratic Posts Relevant to National Security A second de ning feature of the Abe government’s e ort to consolidate political control of national security decision-making — one that has received less attention outside Japan — is its more assertive political review of bureaucratic personnel decisions and its willingness to intervene. 66 This e ort is part of a broader push re ected in the establishment in 2014 of the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel A airs. The bureau, which subjects high-level administrative positions (e.g., deputy vice-minister and higher) to review by the chief Cabinet secretary and prime minister, has been domestically controversial. 67 Yasuo Fukuda, a former prime minister from Abe’s party, lambasted the bureau’s politicization of administrative appointments as tantamount to the “ruination of the state” ( kokka no hametsu ), even calling it the Abe Cabinet’s “greatest failure.” 68 Even before establishing the bureau, however, Abe had demonstrated a willingness to take a proactive role in bureaucratic appointments. Although such decisions are a matter of course in the United States and many other countries, in Japan, critics see the growing politicization of government appointments as violating well-established norms. Some of the concerns include fears of a “spoils system” or policy inconsistency, especially in light of what some refer to as the “revolving door” prime ministership — Japan had six prime ministers between 2006 and 2012. On the other hand, advocates of the Bureau of Personnel A airs contend that ministerial control of personnel appointments has historically exacerbated pervasive bureaucratic “turf consciousness” ( nawabari no ishiki ), which in turn has incentivized powerful bureaucrats to prioritize 61 Masafumi Kaneko, “Iyoiyo shido Nihon-ban NSC [Finally…Japan-style NSC Activates],” PHP Kenkyujo , 2013 , https://thinktank.php.co.jp/ kaeruchikara/939/. 62 Li , “Japan’s National Security Council.” 63 Li , “Japan’s National Security Council.” 64 Kotani, “Japan-style National Security Council (NSC),” 61, 70–72; Matsuda and Saitō, “What’s the Ideal for Japan’s NSC?” 57. 65 Heginbotham and Samuels, “Tokyo’s Arms Exports”; Li , “Japan’s National Security Council.” 66 For a focused study on related issues, see Pugliese, “Kantei Diplomacy?” 67 “ Naikaku jinjikyoku, 5gatsu ni secchi [Cabinet Personnel Bureau to be established in May],” Nikkei Shimbun , Apr. 11, 2014 , https://www.nikkei. com/article/DGXNASFS11002_R10C14A4MM0000/; “Japan’s powerful government personnel body blamed amid cronyism scandals,” Japan Times , Mar. 24, 2018 , https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/24/national/japans-powerful-government-personnel-body-blamed-amid-cronyism ­ scandals/. 68 “Kanryo ga kantei no kaoiro mite shigoto; Fukuda moto shusho Abe seiken hihan [Bureaucrats taking cues from Kantei, former PM Fukuda criticizes Abe administration],” Tokyo Shimbun , Aug. 3, 2017 , http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/politics/list/201708/CK2017080302000136.html. 20

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