• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori urged world leaders Thursday to adopt a step-by-step approach to reform the U.N. Security Council but stopped short of stating Japan’s bid for a permanent membership on the council.

In a speech to the U.N. Millennium Summit, Mori underlined Japan’s increased international role in the field of “human security,” financial contributions and nuclear disarmament.

As an initial step to overhaul the Security Council, Mori called for an agreement initially to expand the number of both permanent and nonpermanent seats and assign the permanent membership to countries from both the developed and the developing world.

“I am convinced that a large majority of member states already support the expansion of the permanent and nonpermanent membership of the council, as well as the inclusion of both developing and developed countries in the expanded permanent membership,” Mori said in a speech from the U.N. General Assembly podium.

“Let us confirm this as a starting point and accumulate agreements, one by one, on those issues of the Security Council reform on which we can agree,” he said.

The council currently has five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — and 10 rotating nonpermanent members.

Mori urged world leaders to “create a groundswell of support for the early realization of Security Council reform” through discussions at the U.N. Millennium Summit and the U.N. Millennium Assembly. In its current form, the council “does not fully reflect the realities of the international community as it enters the 21st century” in which “the maintenance of the peace and security of the international community is a prerequisite for ensuring human security,” he said.

“Based upon this recognition, Japan is resolved to redouble its efforts to more actively fulfill its responsibility and its role in the international community,” Mori said.

Mori highlighted what he called “human security” as Japan’s increasing international role, noting the U.N. “must play, and indeed is expected to play, a more active role in promoting such a human-centered approach.”

“At the dawn of a new century, we are faced with various problems, such as conflicts, human rights violations, poverty, infectious diseases, crime and environment degradation that threaten the existence and dignity of each and every person,” he said.

Placing such human security issues as “one of the pillars of its diplomacy,” Tokyo will contribute an additional $100 million to a Japan-initiated fund set up in March 1999 at the U.N., Mori said. Japan has already contributed $80 million to the fund.

Mori said Japan also intends to establish an international committee on human security involving world opinion leaders to further develop and deepen the concept of a human-centered approach.

“As the only country to have suffered nuclear devastation,” Mori said, Japan will submit a resolution calling for the elimination of atomic weapons.

On financial contributions to the world body, Mori called for a “fairer and more equitable sharing” among member states in tacitly referring to the growing complaint in Japan about its huge dues but lack of a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Japan’s payment of 20 percent exceeds the combined share of the four permanent members, excluding the U.S.

A senior Japanese official said Mori did not spell out the candidacy for a permanent membership to avoid undermining the stage-by-stage approach.

Above all, Japan’s wish is already known by most other countries, and Tokyo believes the permanent membership will come eventually, the official said.

But to make it clear, Foreign Minister Yohei Kono will repeat Japan’s wish when he delivers a speech next week at the General Assembly session, the official said.

Pitch on the sidelines

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori turned himself into Japan’s chief lobbyist Thursday, seeking support from developing nations and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for reform of the U.N. Security Council and a permanent council seat for Japan.

On the sidelines of the U.N. Millennium Summit, Mori met with Annan, threw a party for government leaders from some 50 island and landlocked developing countries, and held a meeting with leaders of Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa.

South African President Thado Mbeki, who chairs the 133 developing nations in the Group of 77, expressed his support on Japan’s step-by-step approach on the council’s reform and called for support to assign a permanent membership to Africa, Japanese officials said.

In his meeting with Mori, Annan agreed on the need to reform the Security Council. He also praised the prime minister for taking the initiative to help developing nations bridge the gap in information technology and to cope with “human security” issues, such as reducing infectious diseases, poverty, drug-trafficking and environment degradation.

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