Japan on Wednesday created a National Security Council, giving the prime minister’s office greater authority over security matters. The law approved by parliament would give Premier Shinzo Abe more control over foreign and defence policy, amid emerging security threats in Asia, reports said.

The council would hold twice-monthly meetings between the Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the foreign and defense ministers, Kyodo News agency reported.

It would be headquartered within the Cabinet Secretariat, and aim to improve coordination between ministers and government agencies, the report said.

It cited a draft outline of the guidelines as saying Japan needed to enhance the surveillance capabilities of the Self-Defense Forces at a time when China is showing increased assertiveness. It also said the military needs to bolster its ability to defend remote islands, including with drones and amphibious forces, the report said.

The report made specific mention of the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which have been at the centre of renewed bilateral tensions between Tokyo and Beijing this week. Surveillance efforts would require cooperation with the US military, it said.

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