Japan gains observer status ahead of return to UNSC


Japanese representatives began attending U.N. Security Council meetings Friday, the first day of Japan’s observer status eligibility six weeks ahead of its record 11th term as a non-permanent member.

Deputy Ambassador Yoshifumi Okamura was among those who sat in on the day’s addresses by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council member states on issues such as U.N. peacekeeping operations around the world.

“(The meetings) gave me a strong feeling that we must take various sides into account as we deal with the world’s conflicts and the challenges of instituting peace and stability,” Okamura said.

“I am humbled by the thought of the work ahead.”

Per Security Council custom, newly elected member states are granted up to six weeks of full access to meetings and closed-door consultations as observers, without the ability to make statements or cast votes.

Japan, whose last stint on the council ended in 2010, was elected unopposed to the council’s Asia-Pacific region seat in October for a two-year term beginning in January.

The other nonpermanent members elected at that time were Egypt and Senegal, representing Africa, Uruguay, which is representing Latin America and Ukraine for Eastern Europe.

The Security Council has five permanent members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — as well as five other nonpermanent members that remain through next year — Angola, New Zealand, Spain, Malaysia and Venezuela.

Japan is pushing for Security Council reform along with Germany, Brazil and India, with each nation aspiring to permanent membership in an expanded council.