Japan to deploy "expo diplomacy" for UNSC seat

In a bid to gain a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, Japanese government plans to actively engage in "expo diplomacy" by taking advantage of the World Exposition that opens Friday in central Japan's Aichi Prefecture.

During the expo, which will run until Sept. 25, heads of state and prime ministers from more than 60 countries are expected to visit the site.

According to Japan's Foreign Ministry, the government wants many of them to come to Tokyo for talks with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura.

The first expo-related diplomatic event is a meeting between Koizumi and French President Jacques Chirac on March 27. German President Horst Koehler will arrive in Japan on April 3 and Australian Prime Minister John Howard on around April 21.

Japan is asking the countries to send high-ranking officials to Tokyo if their leaders cannot make it to Tokyo.

Seif Islam Gadhafi, second son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and the top candidate to succeed him, is scheduled to make his first visit to Japan.

According to the ministry, Koizumi and Machimura will remind leaders of the countries that have already supported Japan's UNSC bid to be sure about it and seek support from those whose positions are still unclear.

The government began a campaign to invite as many foreign leaders as possible to Japan last year by asking them to come to Tokyo through diplomatic channels. Koizumi is also being touted as a "top salesman" in attracting foreign leaders to visit the expo.

For leaders of developing countries that are in tough financial circumstances, Japan has created an "expo honored guest" system, and will pay for their lodging and transportation.

Thanks to these efforts, heads of state from almost 29 participating African countries will visit Japan, the ministry said. Africa holds the key to realize Japan's permanent UNSC membership because of the large number of countries on the continent.

For those unable to come to Tokyo due to their schedules, the Foreign Ministry will send its senior vice minister, parliamentary secretary or director generals to the site to meet them.

People's Daily Online --- http://english.people.com.cn/