Japan doesn’t deserve itJapanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe has once again confirmed Japan’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, which currently consists of five member countries: the United States, the UK, France, China and Russia. In a speech at the General Assembly of the UN on Sept. 29, Abe expressed the hope that Japan can play a bigger role in making the world a better place as a member of the UN Security Council. On Sept. 26, he met leaders of Germany, India and Brazil - which also want to join the privileged club - to seek their support for a reform of the council to “meet the challenges of the 21st century.”
Japan’s bid for the seat on the Council is nothing new. Japan is pinning its hopes on its international contributions as the world’s third largest economy and the second biggest donor nation among 193 UN members. It is true that a situation in which the five nations that won World War II still exercise the greatest power in the UN, their vetoes as permanent members of the council, can hardly reflect the changed situation of the world. In fact, the exclusive status of the five permanent members has not changed at all despite the sharp increase of UN member nations from an original 51. Instead, the number of non-permanent members rose to 10 from 6. Also, among the five council members, three of them - the UK, France and Russia - are from Europe, while no one truly represents Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Oceania. That’s why calls for a restructuring of the council have been growing.
However, UN reforms and the expansion of the Security Council are totally separate issues. It would be better to raise the number of non-permanent members instead if the UN wants to meet the rapidly changing international situation.
Moreover, the Abe administration has been drawing outrage from Japan’s neighbors for its brazen denial of war crimes, including the government-enforced recruitment of sex slaves during the war. On top of that, a number of Abe’s cabinet members continue to pay respects at the Yasukuni Shrine, which house Class-A War Criminals, despite vehement opposition from Korea and China.
UN Security Council members must represent and protect the interests of their neighboring countries, and should have their respect. Japan has not demonstrated the kind of leadership that befits a Security Council member. A nation that refuses to apologize for its shameful past and cannot win the hearts of neighbors is not qualified to become a permanent member of the council.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 1, Page 30