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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 19:02, September 26, 2004
Four barriers on Japan's way to "permanent seat"
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As early as 1995 the Japanese government launched a diplomatic campaign in the United Nations trying to become a permanent member of the Security Council on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UN. Ten year later the Japanese government launched another diplomatic campaign in the UN in the name of striving to become a permanent member of the Security Council.

The first barrier: Peace Constitution
The Japanese government is using all its skills this time trying to enter the Security Council as a permanent member before the 60th UN founding anniversary in 2005. The justifications it gives for this are none other than the following: that Japan is one of a few economic powers in the world and it should be able to exert a political role commensurate with its economic strength; that Japan bears 20 percent of the UN expenses and it deserves a commensurable right to speak; that Japan actively takes part in the UN peace-keeping missions, has made contribution to the peace and stability of the international community and it should have corresponding international political status.

In all fairness Japan does have the capability to exert a larger role in the international community and the international community does hope Japan to make further contribution to world peace and development in a peaceful way. The question is: Do capability, wish and expectation equal qualifications?

PM Koizumi is ambiguous about what Japan could do after obtaining a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Some say Japan could not shoulder the responsibility to carry out a war were it authorized to do so because its peace constitution prohibits it from sending troops into a war.

The Associated Press (AP) said the biggest headache to Japan in its effort to become a permanent member is its peace constitution, which was enacted after Japan's defeat in WWII. In the constitution Japan vows not to use force in settling disputes.

According to reports the US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said to some Japanese parliament members in July that the permanent members of the Security Council sometimes must use military forces. That is to say if Japan wants to become a permanent member it needs to amend its peace constitution.

The AP said although the US government backs Japan's request many analysts believe the restriction of the peace constitution on sending forces to war would impede Japan's efforts on this.

The second barrier: objectively face up to history
Dodging the reality and failure to treat history as it is and reflect on it are the underlying causes that prevent Japan from becoming a political power. They are its fatal spots.

The Japanese militarism committed monstrous crimes on Asian peoples during WWII and brought tremendous suffering to the Asian peoples, which is a historical fact that no one can write off. However instead of self-examination the Japanese Rightist forces are attempting to tamper with and delete this part of bloody invasion history. The Japanese Prime Minister, Cabinet members, parliament members and ordinary politicians keep on creating troubles on questions such as the invasion history and the Yasukuni Shrine, preaching and advocating false historical outlook. The Japanese Rightist history textbook published not long ago even dresses Japan as the benefactor of Asian countries preaching that the Great East Asian War liberated Asian peoples and "Manchukuo" was a benevolent government and happy land. This standing-facts-on-their-heads and confusing-right-and-wrong behavior tremendously hurt the feeling of Asian peoples and of course met with the resolute opposition from righteous and peace-loving countries worldwide.

Judging from Japan's long-term conduct and its impact Japan has been so far in need of the trust of peace-loving countries. Japan has for a long time been trying to cover up historical problems. Even some Japanese said: "Japan has no diplomacy except that of following the US". It is not persuading nor assuring to entrust the permanent membership of the Security Council to a country which is unable to clear up its historical burdens and has no "independent diplomacy". To say being rich is qualification enough to be the permanent member of the Security Council is tantamount to regarding the UN as a money-trading place, which can only make one a laughingstock in front of others.

Indeed, compared with Germany, which is also a defeated country during WWII, the behaviors of Japan are hard to wing the trust of the world. In the last 60 years Germany has made thorough self-examination on its conduct during WWII and will have completed compensating the victims in two years. The post-War Germany has had its peace-loving image generally accepted by the international community. In recent years Germany's contribution to the UN causes and international peace-keeping activities is growing stronger. It is the third biggest country in terms of financial contribution to the UN. It is the country which has stationed the most troops in Afghanistan and the Balkan region. Furthermore Germany's unequivocal stand in opposing the war in Iraq won it high commendation of the international opinion.

In today's world peace and development is the mainstream. Any attempt at reversing this trend is contrary to the will of the people. To realize the transformation from an economic power to a political power Japan must reflect on history and face up to the reality. This is the basic as well as the breakthrough point.

The third barrier: At the US' bidding and losing independence
A permanent member of the UN Security Council must be representative. But Japan doesn't have such a qualification. Simply being an economic power obviously is not a sufficient reason to be a permanent member. Japan's diplomacy depends on the US with everything considered according to the US' will, not the interest of the neighboring countries and the world as a whole but first the interest of the US. This is not a diplomatic attitude deserving a political power. To be a political power is not simply a matter of becoming a permanent member, but first the behavior of a political power. It is to bear the responsibility of a political power and exert the influence befitting a political power.

If an obsequious country dancing to the US' tune becomes a permanent member it is not different from giving the US two seats. In terms of being representative India and Indonesia in Asia and several countries in continental Africa are obviously more qualified than Japan. Even Germany is more qualified than Japan in terms of morality and justice and human concept.

Former rotating chairman of the UN General Assembly and Malaysian Ambassador to the UN Razali once pointed out: "A country hoping to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council must first establish its own 'internationalism'. Obviously to become a permanent member of the Security Council Japan lacks the international environment and conditions. Before realizing this goal Japan should face up to the reality of its country and learn how to correctly distinguish between 'internationalism' and 'nationalism'".

Japan has been following the US in international policies, which makes Japan's weight as an international political power far inadequate. If this policy remains unchanged it is hard for Japan to win the trust of most countries in the world.

The fourth barrier: fierce competition and complicated procedure
Who would become the next permanent member of the Security Council? As the 59th UN General Assembly raised its curtain the question would again be a hot topic in the UN. Japan and Germany want to be, India and Brazil want to be, Mexico, Italy, South Africa and Egypt all want to be. It would not be easy for anyone, whichever it might be. Japanese scholars say the four countries Japan, Germany, India and Brazil, which want to be permanent members, all have rivals and all have oppositions from neighboring countries. They mentioned that the main opposition to Japan comes from the ROK.

Director of the Russian Strategic Research Center pointed out that Russia welcome Japan's passion for wanting to play an active role in the international politics. However, the existing five permanent seats in the Security Council might not have been prepared in every aspect for a discussion of expansion in the near future. If a voting were carried out on this question in this assembly Russia would certainly adopt a dodgy and ambiguous stance because now is not the time for a decision on this question. Although Japan's determination to become a permanent member of the Security Council is very strong the key question is not one's determination so much as the opinion of the international community concerning one and the principle stands of the main Security Council members.

The reform of the Security Council involves amendment of the UN Charter, which is extremely complicated. According to the UN Charter it must pass the vote of two third of the UN members and the vote of any nine countries in the Security Council before it can enter official amendment procedure. After that it must pass a vote on the amendment content by two third of the attending countries and domestic approval by two third of the member countries. It takes a long time to complete all these complicated procedures.

Although the reform of the UN including the Security Council is the trend of the times most countries only agreed on the reform in principle. They vary in opinions and are unable to reach a consensus. Fore example, how many permanent seats should be increased in the Security Council? Will the new permanent members have a veto power? And what are the rules of procedure going to be for the expanded Security Council? Without a consensus of specific solution for the reform in place the increase of the Security Council seats can only create more confusion. Besides, although most existing permanent members of the Security Council are not opposed to Japan becoming a new permanent member no one has launched consultations with Japan regarding the details and procedures. Among them the US, which Japan considers the most supportive, has been supportive only in principle leaving specific questions out of discussion. Obstacles still remain.

By People's Daily Online

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