Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Tokyo working on bid for UN Security Council seat

AFP , TOKYO

Japan is drawing up new proposals to reform the UN Security Council in its efforts to secure permanent membership by winning the support of the US, officials said yesterday.

A bid by Japan and its partners in the so-called G4 group -- Brazil, Germany, and India -- to secure permanent council membership stalled last year in the face of US and Chinese opposition and insufficient backing from the 53-member African Union.

Japan's foreign ministry is currently working on a revised plan that is acceptable to the US, its primary ally, said Toshihiro Kitamura, principal deputy director at the ministry's UN policy division.

"This time we will first seek to gain support from the United States while simultaneously maintaining support from the G4 group of allies, which is still an engine for the Security Council reform," Kitamura said.

"We hope to file the fresh proposal as soon as possible, in order for the reform of the Security Council to be realized in the UN General Assembly in September," he said.

As the US' foremost concern is that expansion of the Security Council could undermine the efficiency of its decision-making, the new plan is likely to set a cap on the membership to about 20-21 countries, from the current 15 including five permanent veto powers.

Japan launched a joint bid along with Brazil, Germany and India for permanent seats on the Security Council, whose structure currently reflects the power balance in 1945.

Japan's candidacy was strongly opposed by China, the only Asian country that has a veto-wielding permanent seat, which said Japan must do more to atone for its aggression up to the end of World War II.

Japan, the UN's number-two contributor after the US, renewed its complaints last month that it pays too much to the UN, after Secretary General Kofi Annan said Tokyo should not slash its contribution despite losing its bid for a permanent Security Council seat.

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