[VIEWPOINT]Japan in the Security CouncilJapan is making strong efforts to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. According to the United Nations Charter, the permanent members of the Council can exercise veto power, participate in the Military Staff Committee, and constitute the Trusteeship Committee that participates in the administration of trust territories.
Therefore, permanent membership is a very important position that can directly take part in the international order of Northeast Asia and the critical situation on the Korean Peninsula. The present permanent members are the five victors in World War II, and Japan, Germany, and Italy ― the former Axis powers defeated in that war ― have been under restrictions by the “enemy clause” in the UN Charter. According to the “former enemy-state clauses “ of Articles 53 and 107 of the Charter, members of the United Nations which were World War II Allies can take military action against their former enemies without any endorsement from the Security Council if the former enemies take any action again deemed a war of aggression.
Japan not only requested that the former enemy-state clauses be re-moved from the Charter but also wants to increase the number of permanent members of the Security Council and assume a permanent seat on the council. Japan bases its justification on having paid more contributions to the operating expenses of the United Nations than the United States and having contributed to the global peace.
The purpose of reforming the United Nations is to improve its policy effectiveness and legitimacy. Also, it is to add countries with ability and intention to the permanent members of the council. As a result, developing countries are also considering a bid to become permanent members. Japan’s strategy is either to become a permanent member alone or to lobby jointly with Germany, India, Brazil and Egypt.
Entering the 21st century, Japan has shown a strong move to settle its history of wars and to be again a “normal” country. It wants a political and diplomatic status in the international community suited for its economic power by reinforcing its military power, focusing on the revision of the peace constitution in order to have a military that performs normal military and diplomatic activities. The Koizumi administration, which wants to revise the constitution, and conservative politicians from both the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party see North Korea’s threat to security, the possible danger of terrorism and international pressure led by the United States as elements that outweigh opposition from the pacifists who remember the damages of war and atomic bombings.
As the United States-Japan alliance gets stronger, Japan capitalizes on U.S. support and pressure to become a military power and get a Security Council seat.
Germany took a leading position in the European Union after it apologized for its history, but Japan has not yet done so, but still wants to become a military power again. Winning the trust of Korea and China is a prerequisite for Japan to become a permanent member of the Security Council.
* The writer is a researcher at the Sejong Institute. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim Sung-chul