Japan has decided to run in an annual election in 2004 for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, the Foreign Ministry announced Monday.

If elected at the U.N. General Assembly, Japan will serve a two-year term beginning in January 2005 as one of the 10 nonpermanent members of the UNSC.

Japan has held a nonpermanent seat eight times in the past, most recently from 1997 to 1998.

Asian countries are allocated two nonpermanent seats, meaning one new member is elected from Asia each year. African countries hold three seats, Latin American countries two seats, Western European countries two seats, and the East European countries one seat.

Japan chose to run in the 2004 election because other Asian countries intend to run in elections before that year. Papua New Guinea had been planning to run in 2004, but intends to withdraw if Japan runs, a ministry official said.

Japan will keep trying to obtain a permanent seat but has decided to also work for a nonpermanent seat before U.N. reform takes place, the official said.

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