Japan supports panel’s UNSC reform proposals

Tokyo wants on board; Hosoda seeks veto power

Kyodo

Japanese officials expressed support Tuesday for a U.N. panel’s proposal to increase the number of permanent Security Council members to 11 from the current five, repeating Tokyo’s bid to become one of them.

Lawmakers expressed discontent, however, that new permanent members will not be granted veto power under the proposal.

Japan “will strive to win other countries’ support” for the proposal, Japanese Ambassador to the U.N. Koichi Haraguchi said in New York.

Tokyo hopes the international community reaches a conclusion on U.N. reforms by the time of a U.N. General Assembly meeting next September, said a senior diplomat assigned to Japan’s U.N. mission.

The advisory panel to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan released a report on United Nations reform earlier Tuesday outlining two options for expanding the Security Council.

The other proposal calls for establishing eight new seats, with member states serving out four-year terms that would be renewable — without increasing the number of permanent members.

Although the report, compiled by the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, did not identify any of the prospective permanent members or holders of renewable-term seats, Japan is believed to have a good chance of benefiting from the proposed reform.

In a September speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stressed Japan’s development aid and other nonmilitary contributions in pushing for permanent membership on the powerful council.

Annan is expected to make his recommendations known in a report to be submitted in March.

In Tokyo on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura welcomed the panel’s recommendations.

Japan is “determined to further fulfill its responsibilities by becoming a permanent Security Council member,” Machimura said, adding that Japan’s basic position is reflected in the panel’s report.

“In order to effectively handle threats the international community faces, it is indispensable to increase the number of both permanent and nonpermanent members of the council,” he said.

But in a separate news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda said he was dissatisfied because neither of the options gives veto power to new permanent members.

“It is basic that all permanent members of the Security Council have the same powers,” Hosoda said. “It is an issue that should be solved as part of an entire package.”

Shinzo Abe, deputy secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, also questioned the panel’s proposals.

“Will reform be achieved if the newcomers are given a lower status?” he asked. “Our country shares 20 percent of the U.N. budget burden, so we of course have the qualifications to be a permanent member.”

The options outlined in the report — Models A and B — involve redistributing seats in four major regions: Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Americas.

Model A calls for expanding the number of permanent members from the current five to 11, so there will be two new permanent members each from Africa and Asia, one from Latin America, and one additional member from Europe.

In addition, there would be three new nonpermanent seats that would have two-year terms and be regionally representative.

Under Model B, however, there would be no expansion of the permanent members. Instead, a new category would be created in which there would be eight new seats with renewable four-year terms. In addition there would be one nonpermanent two-year seat.

While the composition of the options differs with regard to the structure of permanent membership, neither allows for any expanded veto powers.

Under the current structure, the permanent five — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — can wield significant power with their veto rights.

Both options reflect the panel’s intention to more equally distribute U.N. seats across the globe and to better represent the geopolitical realities of the current world.

In the report, the panelists also asked that the General Assembly give preference to those member states that have been the top three contributors in their regions in terms of finances, or voluntary or military contributions toward peacekeeping efforts.

Japan is a significant financial contributor, providing nearly 20 percent of the U.N. budget.

Sixteen panelists, including Sadako Ogata of Japan, who once served as U.N. high commissioner for refugees, have worked for over a year on these recommendations and submitted a total of 101 recommendations to the secretary general.

Charter revision sought

NEW YORK (Kyodo) An advisory panel studying ways to reform the United Nations has proposed revising the so-called enemy state clause from the U.N. Charter in a report released Tuesday.

Japan, one of the seven nations labeled as former enemies of the Allies during World War II, has been calling for the removal of the clause.

The clause enables military action to be taken against the former enemies, which also include Germany, without any endorsement by the Security Council.

“Articles 53 and 107 (references to enemy states) are outdated and should be revised — revisions should be appropriately drafted to avoid retroactively undermining the legal provisions of these articles,” the report says.

The report adds, “The Charter should reflect the hopes and aspirations of today, not the fears of 1945.”