Japan to launch new intelligence unit focused on Islamic militants

TOKYO - A new Japanese Foreign Ministry unit will start collecting information on militant groups such as Islamic State in the countries they are based, the government said on Friday, prompted into action by last month's attacks on Paris.
The unit, to work alongside other intelligence-gathering operations run by the foreign and defense ministries and the police, will be set up on Tuesday with a staff of about 20 with a similar number working overseas in Japanese embassies.
"As underscored by the recent large-scale attacks on Paris, the situation regarding terror attacks is extremely severe," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told lawmakers and government officials.
"The government must do its utmost to forestall terror attacks while working with the international community."
The attacks on Paris bars, restaurants, a soccer stadium and a concert hall killed 130 people. Islamic State claimed responsibility.
Japan is to host a series of high-profile events such as the Group of Seven summit next year, the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the Olympics in 2020.
Islamic State killed two Japanese hostages this year after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged around $200 million in non-military assistance for countries battling the militant group.
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