November 22, 2002

Japan Sets up Anti-terrorism Task Forces

The Japanese government on Monday established an anti-terrorism task force soon after U.S. and British forces launched air attacks against Afghanistan Sunday night.

The emergency task force, led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, consists of all cabinet members, government officials said.

The task force is expected to hold meetings whenever necessary to discuss measures such as ensuring the safety of Japanese, Japan 's cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, strengthening security at important facilities in Japan and tightening immigration procedures at entry points into the country, the officials said.

At an extraordinary cabinet meeting held early Monday, Koizumi expressed strong support for the U.S. and British military operation and instructed Japanese ministers to tighten immigration controls and security around U.S. military facilities.

All cabinet members were ordered to stand by in or near Tokyo on Monday, according to the officials.

Meanwhile, Japan's Defense Agency established a task force under agency chief Gen Nakatani, who instructed its officials to put security at Self-Defense Forces (SDF) facilities and U.S. bases on maximum alert, carry out unified information control, prepare for emergencies and strengthen information-gathering.

Nakatani said he will consider new steps to support U.S. forces in attacking Afghanistan after two SDF-related bills are enacted in the Diet (parliament).

The ruling coalition on early Monday also set up its own task force and decided to seek the cooperation of opposition parties to enact related bills at an early stage in the wake of the strikes against Afghanistan.

(Xinhua News Agency 10/08/2001)

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