• Kyodo

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One hundred forty-one of the United Nations’ 189 member states back a Japanese proposal to expand the number of permanent and nonpermanent members of the U.N. Security Council, Japan’s ambassador to the U.N., Yukio Sato, said Thursday.

Sato announced the figure to U.N.-based journalists during a briefing on Japan’s bid to become a permanent council member.

Japan plans to hold talks with the new U.S. administration and other U.N. member governments on how to realize the Japanese proposal to raise the number of Security Council members from 15 to 24, he said.

Asked why Japan wants to become a permanent member, Sato said the government has fostered a special understanding of problems involving the developing world from its position as the world’s top donor of foreign aid over the past 10 years.

“We have a certain sympathy, compassion and our own way of understanding the problems of developing countries,” he said.

Sato said Japan believes “another democracy from Asia can be a permanent member” of the Security Council, on which Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States currently have seats.

Sato trod carefully on the question of whether Japan would accept permanent Security Council membership without the power of veto, as enjoyed by the present five permanent members.

“I don’t think it is desirable to have two categories of permanent council members,” he said.

Sato avoided giving Japan’s view on the possibility of India becoming a permanent member, saying “it is a bit too early” to outline the Japanese position with regard to other countries.

Reform of the Security Council was a top issue at the Millennium Summit held last month at the U.N., where Prime Minister Mori and Foreign Minister Yohei Kono launched a vigorous campaign for Japan’s permanent membership.

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