• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi arrived in Ethiopia on the first leg of a swing through Africa and Sweden aimed at taking Japan out of its Asia-dominated foreign policy and boosting its global clout.

In a meeting Sunday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told Koizumi his nation supports Japan’s long-standing bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Japanese officials said.

The officials said Koizumi and Meles agreed that reform of the U.N. is needed to reflect changing times since the world body’s inception in 1945.

Meles told Koizumi it is not appropriate for Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, to be denied permanent membership on the Security Council, the officials said.

Koizumi said later at a news conference Japan has no nuclear weapons and does not exercise the use of force in international society, in contrast to the five permanent Security Council members.

He indicated Japan’s support for the African Union’s campaign to win permanent Security Council membership for two African countries.

Alluding to Japan’s plan to double the amount of foreign aid for African countries by 2007, Koizumi said Tokyo plans to focus aid on measures to help the African countries become economically independent.

Koizumi was scheduled to hold talks Monday with African Union Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare.