NEW YORK – Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi voiced Japan’s desire Tuesday to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, making his first strong pitch before the U.N. General Assembly and indicating the Constitution will not be revised to this end.
“We believe that the role that Japan has played provides a solid basis for its assumption of permanent membership on the Security Council,” Koizumi said in an address to the annual General Assembly session.
Koizumi, speaking in English, cited the deployment of Self-Defense Forces troops in East Timor and Iraq as examples of Japanese contributions toward global peace.
He said both the permanent and nonpermanent members of the Security Council should be expanded as part of efforts to make the United Nations more capable of coping with new challenges, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and poverty reduction.
“The time has come to make a historic decision to reform the United Nations, and the Security Council, in particular,” he said. “I would like to call upon the distinguished delegates of this body to work together and take a bold step toward the creation of ‘A New United Nations for the New Era.’ “
This represented Koizumi’s first speech before the U.N. General Assembly since 2002. In a shift from his previous position, Koizumi made it clear that Japan will seek permanent UNSC membership without revising the war-renouncing Constitution.
Koizumi had not been receptive to the idea of Japan becoming a permanent Security Council member under the Constitution for fear that permanent membership on the powerful council would require Japan to participate in military action overseas.
“It is our conviction that peace cannot be achieved through force alone,” Koizumi said in the U.N. speech. “Based upon this conviction, Japan has played an active and distinctive role.”
An advisory panel created by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan is scheduled to compile a report on U.N. reform in December before the organization celebrates the 60th anniversary of its foundation next year.
Koizumi expressed hope that the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change will present a “bold and ambitious” plan for reforming the United Nations.
The U.N. was created in 1945. The Security Council has the five permanent members with veto power that emerged victorious in Word War II — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and 10 rotating nonpermanent members.
In his speech, Koizumi said the “enemy state” clause should be removed from the U.N. Charter. The clause enables military action to be taken against the World War II Allies’ former enemies, including Japan and Germany, without any endorsement from the Security Council.
Koizumi said Japan will continue to play a leading role in making a peaceful and secure world without the threat of nuclear arms.
“Japan is the only country ever to have suffered nuclear devastation,” Koizumi said in reference to the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “As such, Japan has been at the forefront in promoting nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.”