Japan won a two-year term on the UN Security Council, and hopes to prove that it deserves a permanent seat on the powerful body as the issue of UN reform takes center stage next year. \nArgentina, Denmark, Greece and Tanzania were also elected on Friday as nonpermanent members -- all committed to enlarging the 15-member coun-cil, but without the same open ambition as Japan to make their two-year stints permanent. \n"It is unprecedented that the sort of momentum for seeking the reform of the Security Council is very, very great at this moment, and the fact that Japan comes into the Security Council as a non-permanent member has a special meaning," said Japan's UN Ambassador Koichi Haraguchi. \n"The people will look at the behavior of Japan, even if it's this time not a permanent member," he said. "They regard Japan as a country who has a very strong hope to serve in the Security Council as a new permanent member ... So we will continue to keep that in mind and do as much as possible to live up to the ... expectation." \nCalling it "a big day for us," Haraguchi said Japan is already "very heavily involved" in key issues before the council including Iraq, Afghanistan and African conflicts, and will remain involved. Japan will also focus on "the so-called new threats and and new challenges ... which require a lot of creative thinking" including the prevention of terrorism and weapons proliferation, he said. \nWhile some elections for Security Council seats are hotly contested battles, Friday's election by the 191 members of the UN General Assembly rubber-stamped the candidates selected months ago by regional groups. \nIn the secret ballot, Argentina received 188 votes, Greece 187, Tanzania 186, Japan 184 and Denmark 181. \nWhen the five countries take their seats on Jan. 1, the complexion of the council will change. The departure of Pakistan -- along with Angola, Chile, Germany and Spain -- means the council will lose one of its two Muslim nations, leaving just Algeria to represent Islamic nations. \n"That's why we are asking that Islamic countries should be more equitably represented in an enlarged council," said Pakistan's UN Ambassador Munir Akram. \nThe five permanent members -- the US, Britain, France, Russia and China -- are the only ones with veto power. \nWhile reform of the Security Council is the subject of intense discussion, the decision will be made by the General Assembly, though it must be ratified by the permanent Council members. \nWhile there is widespread support among all UN member states to expand the Security Council to reflect the geopolitical realities of the 21st century, there is no agreement on how large it should be, which countries should get seats, whether the new seats should be permanent or temporary, and which members should have veto power. \n"Everybody said there is a necessity to reform," General Assembly President Jean Ping told a news conference Friday. "The problem is how and which type of reforms." \n"But it's moving fast, moving," he said, when asked about prospects for agreement. \nAt last month's General Assembly ministerial meeting, the leaders of Japan, Germany, Brazil and India agreed to support each other's candidacies for permanent seats.
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Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo