Tokyo voted for Seoul UNSC post

Kyodo

Japan voted for South Korea’s successful bid to become a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council during a U.N. General Assembly election in mid-October, sources close to bilateral ties said.

The move was aimed at improving ties between the two countries at a time when Japan’s relations with China remain mired over competing claims to the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands.

Given a lack of easing in South Korea’s position on the Takeshima islets in the Sea of Japan that are claimed by Japan but controlled by South Korea, Tokyo’s support for Seoul’s membership on the U.N. Security Council, which will start in January, may raise eyebrows at home.

Ties with Seoul remain sour following South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s trip to the Takeshima islets, as Japan refers to them, in early August. South Korea calls the rocky outcroppings Dokdo.

In the U.N. election, South Korea was elected to a two-year term as a new nonpermanent member on the Security Council, along with Argentina, Australia, Luxemburg and Rwanda. The body consists of five veto-wielding permanent members and 10 nonpermanent members, half of which are replaced via elections every year.

Tokyo conveyed to Seoul before the vote that it would support the South’s bid, the sources said.

“We need to think about Japan-South Korean relations separately from cooperative relations in the United Nations,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said in Tokyo. “The inclusion in the Security Council of South Korea, which takes a hardline stance toward North Korea, serves the interests of Japan in seeking to resolve the abduction issue.”

Japan appears to have supported South Korea’s bid in part because of its desire to in turn secure Seoul’s support for any future attempts Tokyo may make for nonpermanent membership.

No high-level meeting

Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba has ruled out the possibility of an early high-level meeting between Japan and China to resolve the standoff over the Senkaku Islands.

“The timing has not been ripe yet,” Genba said Wednesday, adding he has no plans to attend the Asia-Europe Meeting in Laos next week or ASEAN-related summits in Cambodia later this month.