Hi Blog. I have the feeling that Japan may be approaching checkmate on getting its permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Using the appointment of Ban Ki Moon as the new UN Secretary General as an opportunity to put some wind behind their sails, the GOJ has gotten their ducks lined up: the major world powers (sans China) are falling for Japan’s arguments of quid pro quo.
Opening with a primer article from Drini at Inter Press. Then Japan Times on Europe’s and Bolton’s support. Comment from me follows.
Japan’s eyes still on UN seat
Asia Times January 3, 2007
By Suvendrini Kakuchi
TOKYO – Half a century ago, Japan, defeated by Western Allied forces at the end of World War II in 1945, was admitted to the United Nations, marking an end to its violent past and beginning anew in world politics with a clean slate.
Since then, Japan has not disappointed the world. The country now boasts a record of working hard to rise from the ashes of war to become the world’s second-largest economy and international aid donor.
But in December, as Japan celebrated the 50th anniversary of its admission to the United Nations, top policymakers and politicians were reiterating a deep-rooted national desire to gain a permanent place in the UN Security Council with the coveted veto power.
“Japan, for its part, is determined to take up its full responsibilities through gaining membership in the Security Council,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a solemn ceremony at United Nations University in Tokyo, attended by the Japanese emperor and empress as well as international diplomats and top academics.
Analysts contend that the resumption of the drive for Security Council reform this year, which follows the disastrous rejection in 2005, reflects several important developments in Japanese diplomacy after the election of former leader Junichiro Koizumi and Abe, both conservatives.
“Abe and Koizumi represent a generation of postwar politicians in Japan who want an active role in global politics. They believe this position is long overdue for Japan that is now rich and confident and totally different to country that was defeated in World War II,” explained Professor Akihiko Tanaka, an expert on UN diplomacy.
Indeed, Abe, along with conservative policymakers, argue that Japanese contributions to the UN are almost 20% of the annual budget, second only to the United States, which should make a permanent seat in the Security Council along with the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, which pay lower fees, totally natural.
In addition, wrote the Yomiuri newspaper, Japan’s largest daily, Japan has also contributed in the way of calling for arms reduction, improvement of the UN Secretariat’s functioning, and a fair calculation of contribution of ratios for member fees.
“But,” noted the newspaper pointedly, “such sensible recommendations have never been implemented. The Security Council’s special privilege, the UN’s unique structure and the difficulty of multinational diplomacy are behind Japan’s inability to get its voice heard.”
The statement also refers to Japan’s failed Security Council aspirations, a hurdle the government has called as difficult as “getting a camel through the eye of a needle”.
Japan forged an alliance with aspirants India, Brazil and Germany in 2005 to gain a permanent position in the Security Council, but was unsuccessful. Yet other experts do not agree with the stance that Japan is not influential in the UN.
Professor Ichiro Kawabe, a UN expert at Aichi University, based in Nagoya, points out that Japan’s economic clout has certainly allowed the country to yield strong influence in the UN, such as in last July when the Security Council adopted a resolution under the direction of Tokyo protesting North Korea’s missile launches.
“Moreover, Japan has won the position in the Security Council on a revolving basis nine times in the past, allowing its participation and vote in several crucial debates,” Kawabe said. He added that such chances were never seized by Japanese diplomats to spotlight a unique global vision.
One reason for the inability of Japan to achieve its Security Council aspirations is the complexity of developing a multilateral diplomacy that demands dealing with issues such as human rights and racism along with the organization’s 109 members.
Those intricacies are not easy for Japan, the experts say, explaining that Tokyo has been content to develop its postwar foreign relations under the umbrella of the US-Japan Security Pact that has only gotten stronger these past few years.
Under Koizumi and Abe, this pro-US foreign policy has gained a stronger standing, with beefed-up new agreements such as a joint missile-defense plan last July.
“While Japan remains a trusted UN member and a leader in development issues, there is still the notion of the country bowing to US interests rather than having its own world vision,” said Professor Monzurul Huq, a Bangladeshi national teaching international relations at Yokohama University.
Yet another trend of thought among some academics is the use of a permanent position in the Security Council by Abe to foster narrow domestic interests.
“Under the new thrust of promoting human security in the world, the UN peacekeeping forces, for example, and with its image of building peace in conflict zones, Abe is promoting the changing of Japan’s peace constitution to have a military,” said Kawabe.
(Inter Press Service)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY SUPPORT ‘OVERWHELMING’
Japan deserves permanent UNSC seat, Bolton says
Japan Times January 17, 2007
By ERIC PRIDEAUX Staff writer
Japan should be granted a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, as more than two-thirds of General Assembly states would support this despite expected opposition from China, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said Tuesday.
“I think Japan still has overwhelming support in the General Assembly,” said Bolton, an outspoken foreign-policy conservative and advocate of the U.S. invasion of Iraq who stepped down as ambassador in December amid accusations from liberals, and some conservatives, that his approach to foreign policy was heavy-handed.
But as someone with the ear of many conservatives in Washington, Bolton remains closely watched by analysts.
A guest of the government, Bolton arrived Saturday for a weeklong visit during which he is meeting with officials and the public to share his views on U.S. policy.
Speaking to students and others at the University of Tokyo, Bolton said Japan’s strategy of allying with fellow UNSC aspirants Brazil, Germany and India — collectively known as the Group of Four — ultimately failed because each country met resistance from neighboring rivals.
“I think many of the other members of the G4 felt that if Japan became a permanent member and the U.N. went through this lengthy exercise of amending the charter, then there would never be another chance,” he said. “I don’t see why you can’t amend the charter — because Japan clearly qualifies as a permanent member — and then take each subsequent case on an individual basis.”
Bolton argued that as the second-largest contributor to U.N. finances after the U.S., and as a participant in peacekeeping operations around the world, Japan possesses more than enough clout to ask the General Assembly to vote for the charter revision needed to give it a permanent Security Council seat.
As one of five countries currently holding permanent seats, China — which has misgivings about Japan having a permanent UNSC seat — can veto Japan’s bid, a fact Bolton readily acknowledged. That, however, should not be a deterrent, he added.
“(Japan) needs to put that case to China and see if China is really prepared to stand in the way,” he said.
Separately, Bolton also hailed the appointment of South Korean diplomat Ban Ki Moon as the new U.N. secretary general and successor to Kofi Annan. “We find ourselves now in a situation where the United States has, we all have, a secretary general who is a former foreign minister of a treaty ally of the United States — something that would have been unthinkable during the Cold War, to be sure, and that is really quite remarkable even in the circumstances that we face today,” Bolton said.
The Japan Times: Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007
COMMENT FROM DEBITO:
Well, given this editorial in the JT (which gives the information we need but surprisingly doesn’t give an opinion on it), I think we’ve just about lost the battle on this issue.
Mr. Abe’s bold security agenda
The Japan Times Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007
…The new thinking underlying Mr. Abe’s trip was signaled on the day of his departure with the elevation of the Japan Defense Agency to become the Ministry of Defense. That move sets the stage for a shift in defense planning as Japan attempts to take on new international responsibilities. Central to that new role is permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council: Mr. Abe made that case in meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Jacques Chirac and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and won support from them all. Of course, much remains to be done before that goal can be realized — meaningful U.N. reform encompasses much more than just expanding the size of the Security Council. Mr. Abe focused his efforts on building a coalition that supports Japanese ambitions.
Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20070116a1.html
Why do I oppose Japan’s bid for the UNSC? Because Japan has a nasty habit of signing treaties and not following them: Two shining examples: The Convention on Civil and Political Rights and The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Or not signing treaties at all, such as the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (more on this at the CRN Website).
The UN CCPR Committee and the UN in general, most recently UN HRC Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006, has cautioned Japan about this for well over a decade. Yet Japan continues to ignore the findings or do anything significant to change the situation (such as pass a law against racial discrimination, now eleven years overdue).
The ace in the hole for the human rights activists is the UNSC seat, which is all the GOJ really cares about here. Its sense of entitlement is to me more due to a matter of national pride and purchasing power. Less about acting like a developed country keeping its promises as a matter of course. Give this seat to Japan, and there is no incentive for the GOJ do anything at all regarding its human rights record (quite the opposite–the GOJ will probably feel further justified in continuing doing nothing since it got this far anyway).
Probably should send the leadership of the supporting countries some of these newspaper articles, for what they’re worth. Any citizens out there willing to contact their embassy or national offices overseas? Help yourself to these links. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
Japan Times column: “PULLING THE WOOL: Japan’s pitch for the UN Human Rights Council was disingenuous at best” (November 7, 2006)
Japan Times column: “RIGHTING A WRONG: United Nations representative Doudou Diene’s trip to Japan has caused a stir” (June 27, 2006)
Japan Times column: “HOW TO KILL A BILL: Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism” (May 2, 2006)
Japan Times column: “TWISTED LEGAL LOGIC DEALS RIGHTS BLOW TO FOREIGNERS: McGowan ruling has set a very dangerous precedent” (February 7, 2006)
Japan Times column: “TAKING THE ‘GAI’ OUT OF ‘GAIJIN’: Immigration influx is inevitable, but can assimilation occur?” (January 24, 2006) (Adapted from a longer Japan Focus academic article of January 12, 2006)
Japan Times column: “THE “IC YOU CARD”: Computer-chip card proposals for foreigners have big potential for abuse” (November 22, 2005)
Japan Times column: “MINISTRY MISSIVE WRECKS RECEPTION: MHLW asks hotels to enforce nonexistent law” (October 18, 2005)
Japan Times column: “HERE COMES THE FEAR: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents” (May 24, 2005)–with UPDATE including Mainichi Shinbun article of February 8, 2006, demonstrating that the article’s claims are indeed coming true.
Japan Times column: “CREATING LAWS OUT OF THIN AIR: Revisions to hotel laws stretched by police to target foreigners” (March 8, 2005)
Japan Times column: “RACISM IS BAD BUSINESS: Overseas execs tired of rejection, ‘Japanese Only’ policies are turning international business away from Japan” (January 4, 2005)
Japan Times column: “VISA VILLAINS: Japan’s new Immigration law overdoes enforcement and penalties” (June 29, 2004)
Japan Times column: “DOWNLOADABLE DISCRIMINATION: The Immigration Bureau’s new snitching Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses.” (March 30, 2004)
Japan Times column: “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION: Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004)
Asahi Shinbun English-language POINT OF VIEW Column, “IF CARTOON KIDS HAVE IT, WHY NOT FOREIGNERS?” (Dec 29, 2003) A translation of my Nov 8 2003 Asahi “Watashi no Shiten” column.
Japan Times column: “Time To Come Clean on Foreign Crime: Rising crime rate is a problem for Japan, but pinning blame on foreigners not the solution” (Oct 7, 2003).
Japan Times column on Japanese police abuse of authority: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003)
1 comment on “Endgame on GOJ push for UNSC seat?”
Comment from cyberspace. Debito
Arudou Debito wrote:
Why do I oppose Japan’s bid for the UNSC? It’s not just because I find all
this talk of financial contribution as some legitimization of Japan’s
standpoint rather odd (should UNSC seats be up for sale?).
Right. Funny how the arguments for Japan’s UNSC seat always mention something
like one of these as a primary justification.
…as the second-largest contributor to U.N. finances…
…argue that Japanese contributions to the UN are almost 20% of the annual
Makes one think that any country with enough money to contribute could buy a
seat. Of course if the nationalists succeed in pushing Japan onto the path of a
military build up, then Japan may no longer be able to afford such large
contributions. I would speculate that one reason Japan has been able to afford
that 20% contribution is that it has had the US footing a vast percentage of the
effective domestic military bill. So perhaps Japan is not all that generous
It’s more because Japan has a nasty habit of signing treaties and not
Two shining examples: The Convention on Civil and Political Rights and The
Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
I’d like to add the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to this
list. You can read more about the problems in the 2004 report to the Committee
on the Rights of the Child here. (The Community was one of the coalition
Interestingly, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations has submitted a pretty
scathing report for the past two sessions also. Even the domestic lawyers think
that the politicians are missing the boat on this one. Their report does not
cover most of the problems with family law besides the obvious ones, like
children born out of wedlock being legally entitled to only 1/2 the inheritence
of a child born in wedlock and signing the Hague Convention. But they have a
number of their own. I would certainly classify the UNCRC as a third shining
This is one of the few treaties for which the UN accepts reports written by
NGO’s. So if you want to try to influence the UN, this treaty may afford a