• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Yohei Kono pressed Japan’s case Wednesday for a permanent U.N. Security Council seat in outlining the country’s global diplomacy at the General Assembly.

Kono devoted most of his 25-minute speech at the podium of the General Assembly to the UNSC bid, saying Japan has been playing a growing role in global affairs outside the military field.

Building on a speech Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori delivered to the U.N. Millennium Summit last week, Kono directly raised Japan’s case for a permanent UNSC seat.

Japan is ready to “assume a greater responsibility as a permanent member of the council, mobilizing its capabilities and its experiences in various areas, such as disarmament and nonproliferation, development and human security,” Kono said.

Japan has kept a low profile in U.N. peacekeeping actions since its Constitution prohibits the use of force to resolve international conflicts.

Mori did not fully spell out Japan’s candidacy either in his speech to the United Nations last Thursday or in meetings with other world leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. summit, instead focusing on Japan’s proposal for a stage-by-stage approach to Security Council reform.

On international issues, Kono expressed hope that the historic inter-Korea summit in Pyongyang in June will lead to more positive developments on the peninsula.

Kono deplored the “unforgivable” killing of three U.N. refugee workers by a pro-Indonesia militia in West Timor last week and offered to help Middle East peace efforts.

Kono noted Japan is the second-biggest contributor to the U.N. even though it is not a permanent UNSC member, and urged the U.N. to find “a more equitable scale” in assessing financial contributions from member states.

Japan currently accounts for 20 percent of the world body’s funding.

On nuclear disarmament, Kono described the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons as “my political credo.”

He called for support of a Japanese initiative to scuttle the world’s nuclear arsenal and urged the world to strengthen an international regime to halt missile proliferation and conclude, by 2002, a treaty banning biological weapons.

Japan’s resolution, which is expected to be submitted to the current General Assembly session, will set “paths toward realization of a world free of nuclear weapons,” Kono said.

The Japanese initiative includes calls for nuclear nonproliferation, early enforcement of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a quick start and conclusion of negotiations on a cut-off treaty banning production of fissile materials, and promotion of talks between the U.S. and Russia for a third strategic arms reduction treaty.

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