National / Politics

Abe bidding hard for permanent Security Council seat

by Alastair Wanklyn

Staff Writer

A confident Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday laid out Japan’s case for securing a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, in an online essay listing Japanese contributions to the body and to global development.

He said Japan is the second-largest financial donor to the United Nations and has provided more than $330 billion in official development assistance, underscoring that while the U.N. has quadrupled in size since its inception in 1945, the core of the Security Council remains unchanged.

“Based on our track record of bringing a global perspective to resolving issues in Africa and the Middle East, among other regions, and our commitment to making a proactive contribution to peace, I firmly believe that as a permanent member of the Security Council, Japan would provide a major impetus toward global peace and security,” Abe wrote.

The essay was published on the op-ed section of the CNN website.

In July 2015, intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform recommended that the body be increased to 21-27 members. Observers called this a significant step forward, but left undecided was whether any of the new seats should be permanent.

“It’s very difficult for any country wanting a permanent seat to get it, because there is strong opposition to each of the major contenders from at least a few countries, often close to them, and that’s certainly true for Japan,” said political scientist John Langmore of the University of Melbourne. China could veto Japan’s entry.

Langmore added there is also quiet resistance from Russia, the United States, Britain and France, as enlargement would dilute the value of their seats.

Also hoping for a permanent seat is India, on account of its huge population, and Brazil, although the Portuguese-speaking nation faces resistance from Spanish-speaking neighbors.

Japan’s government has raised its case at a slew of recent meetings, including the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Nairobi in August — where nations sought to “urgently reform U.N. bodies, including the Security Council” — and most recently on Tuesday in New York, in a meeting between Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his British counterpart, Boris Johnson.

In his essay, Abe acknowledged that other nations deserve seats. He noted that while Africa is the focus of much of the Security Council’s agenda, no African nation has a permanent voice on the body.

However, in making Japan’s case, he supplied arguments that some might take issue with.

He said Japan has “accepted 560,000 trainees from developing nations” but did not mention that the government-backed Technical Intern Training Program has been criticized by foreign governments and rights campaigners as leaving workers vulnerable to forced labor.

Abe also said Japan is “pioneering efforts … to create a society in which all women can shine.” Critics note that Japan lingers in the depths of global female empowerment rankings.

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