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Permanent Seat for Japan on the UN Security Council?

BeNippon

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Together with Brazil and Germany, Japan is rallying for a seat on the UN Security Council. The Japan Times writes that

Japan's military is one of the best-equipped in Asia and its economy is the world's second largest. It spreads its wealth around the world generously with foreign aid.
The government now says there's a perfect way to acknowledge that clout -- by giving it a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to personally make his case for joining the ranks of five veto-wielding powers when he addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

Japan has long campaigned for a seat on the council next to the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France. But Koizumi took the campaign to a new level when he adopted it as his pet project this year, ahead of a report by a U.N. panel set up by Secretary General Kofi Annan to study recommendations for reform, including possibly expanding the Security Council.

Critics, however, say Koizumi has been vague about what Japan would do with a permanent seat. Some say Japan would be unable to fulfill such responsibilities as authorizing a war because the pacifist Constitution bars it from sending its own troops into battle.

"It is untenable to imagine how Japan could vote to deploy troops to take part in collective security contingencies without sending its own," said Weston Konishi, a senior researcher at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation in Washington. "It would lead to real resentment."

He said it is unlikely Japan will win a permanent seat, at least within the next five to 10 years.

Still, Japan is expanding its global presence in other ways, such as the unprecedented dispatch of troops to provide humanitarian support for the U.S.-led operation in Iraq.

"The political animal in the prime minister understands it's an ideal time to try for a permanent seat," lawmaker Ichita Yamamoto said. "It is in Japan's national interests, and it will also be in the interests of the United Nations."

Yamamoto, a member of Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party, plans to keep up the momentum by uniting dozens of ruling and opposition lawmakers next month in a group dedicated to winning a permanent seat.

Tokyo is already a major backer of the United Nations. Its contribution of $263 million was nearly a fifth of the 2003 general budget in 2003, second only to the U.S. outlay of $300 million. Japan also pays hundreds of millions more for peacekeeping, development and other U.N. programs.

Now it wants some payback -- "more respect, position, and prestige," said Takashi Inoguchi, a professor at Tokyo University.

Annan has supported enlarging the council to command greater respect, especially in the developing world, and to make it more effective.

Brazil and India are also vying for seats, arguing they could better represent the interests of developing countries. Germany is also a contender.

Some in Japan argue that Tokyo is a strong candidate because, as both a nonnuclear power and as the world's only victim of atomic bombing, its voice is unique. All five current permanent members possess nuclear weapons. So does India.

Japan's biggest handicap may be its Constitution, adopted during the American Occupation, because it bans using force to resolve disputes.

The government reads the Constitution to mean Japan can't send soldiers to war unless it is directly attacked.

Richard Armitage, U.S. deputy secretary of state, reportedly told senior Japanese lawmakers in July that permanent members must use military force at times, suggesting Japan needs to revise its Constitution if it wants to join the club.

Though Armitage and Secretary of State Colin Powell have since said the Bush administration supports Japan's bid, many analysts believe the constitutional restrictions could impede the campaign regardless.

The Japan Times: Sept. 21, 2004
(C) All rights reserved


Even though it seems somehow outdated that only WWII 窶忤inners窶 have a permanent seat (and thus veto power) on the UNSC, should it really be Japan joining the exclusive club?
I strongly doubt that other East Asian nations will accept a permanent Japanese seat. Plus, do we really need Japan on the council? I think it would be more beneficial having the small and developing countries be represented. And what role for India? If one country should have its say, then India. Why do we need two European Countries; France and Britain? And what about the Islamic countries? Shouldn窶冲 they also have a seat? Not to mention Africa.

The UN Council is not an International body at all. With Japan joining it, there will be no changes. As Japan US relation stands now, Japans` joining would only promote a British-Japanese-American block in the council.
 

Mike Cash

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I don't know about "best-equipped".......but based on the times we tried to conduct exercises with the JMSDF when I was in the USN (mid eighties), I would heartily classify them as "most inept".

That's a totally unfair assessment as it is based on a tiny sample and horribly outdated. Whether it's an accurate assessment or not today......Who knows?
 

Maciamo

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Japan is a political puppet of the US. Therefore it would be very beneficial for the US to have Japan on the UNSC, as it almost assure them an additional vote.

I agree that India should have a seat, but certainly not a small developping country (which could be led by a dictator, subject to corruption or political instability. etc.). As a European I like the idea of having 2 EU countries at the UNSC, and I think it may be necessary given the difference in culture and political inclinations (as seen with the Iraq War). But it would be more fair to have just one seat for the EU as a whole, one for India and none for Japan. As was often said before, Japan is an ecomonic giant, but a political dwarf. That is indeed true, as Japanese politicians are probably the most corrupted and inefficient of all developed countries (or at best 2nd after Italy).
 

PaulTB

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Maciamo said:
I agree that India should have a seat, but certainly not a small developping country (which could be led by a dictator, subject to corruption or political instability. etc.).
You think India doesn't have problems with corruption and political instability?
 

Maciamo

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PaulTB said:
You think India doesn't have problems with corruption and political instability?

In my opinion (I have spent 5 months in India), it's much better than Japan. Corruption is at a low level, while in Japan it is mostly at a high (or the highest) level. I also think that India is more democratic than Japan and the US. Elections are not rigged and it's not always the same party that wins (alright the US has 2 parties, but the Democrats have only had 3 elected presidents in 60 years).

India is one of the rare country in the world where 2 women have been elected Prime Minister. What is more, Sonia Gandhi, who was elected PM a few months ago, but turned down the job, is an Italian by birth. Which country in the world has ever elected a foreign woman as head of state but India ?

Furthermore, even in such a religious society as India, where most Hindus still believe that they should give their seat to a Brahmin (highest caste), or never touch an outcaste (aka "untouchable"), one of India's president (although it is most an honorific position, like in Germany) was an Untouchable. Isn't it a proof of democracy where the masses of poorer outcaste elect one of them as president ? That would be the equivalent to having a lower-class Black elected as president in the US (the position is less important in India, but the social taboo is even greater).

I also think that the Indian government is doing a good job in keeping social order without repressing people, in spite of huge economic gaps between the various echelons of society (religion surely plays a big role too). Then, even if India is usually considered as a poor country, there is no starvation, little crime (I found it safer than most Western countries), and India has its own space programs, own (=not imported) cars, trains, and computer industry.

For all these reasons, combined with the facts that India's population is greater than the whole of Europe, North America, Oceania and Japan combined, there is no reason India should not have a seat at the UNSC (esp. if Russia and China have).
 

PaulTB

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So no comment at all on the fact that the first source I find of a 'corruption index' puts India as much, much, more corrupt than Japan?

Granted Japan is far from perfect, but then what country is? (Finland apparently - but that was a rhetorical question :D ).

While you obviously have a lot of experience with Japan it's always seemed to me that you're first to find fault with it and first to overlook faults with certain other countries.
 

Brooker

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It seems the biggest issue is that if Japan gets a seat they will also have to have a more active military - something that could have a lot of positive (more international credibility and say in decision making - something that seems to be important to the Japanese) and negative results (loss of life, economy's focus diverted to military spending) for Japan. It's not fair to vote troops into battle if you can't send any of your own.
 

PaulTB

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I personally think the whole 'Permanent Member' set up is out dated and the concept could do with rethinking from scratch. Are France and the UK really 'Great Powers' while Germany isn't?

On the other hand the big power of the Permanent Members is the Veto. If Japan is a 'US puppet' as accused that will make no significant difference in that respect because you only need one permanent member to veto something.
 

Mike Cash

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Nothing gets Japan's own neighbors more on edge than the thought of a remilitarized Japan. And who can blame them?

Besides that, nothing causes more hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth within Japan than the issue of sending Japanese troops abroad. They have in the past come up with such dubious solutions as sending the troops but having them unarmed, or armed with nothing more substantial than pistols.
 

PaulTB

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Japan's 2003 voting history is here
http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/31567.pdf
Of 15 'important'* votes Agreed (with US) on 7, disagreed on 4, abstained on 4.
Which certainly shows that they fall in line more often than not but is far from puppet - particularly if you consider the absentions.

Compare with Israel:
Agree 13, disagree 1, absent 1
... although who is puppet and who puppeteer is open to question.

* As decided by the US I suppose.
 

PaulTB

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mikecash said:
Facts are stubborn things.
That's the second not-quite-sure-how-to-interpret thing I've read of yours in two days.

Do you mean "Facts are stubborn things ... and therefore difficult to argue with." or "Facts are stubborn things ... and therefore difficult to get a good hold on." ?

I honestly can't tell :?
 

Maciamo

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PaulTB said:
So no comment at all on the fact that the first source I find of a 'corruption index' puts India as much, much, more corrupt than Japan?

As I said, the importance in this case is where is the corruption. Is your index for political, police, business or all kinds of corruption ?

Japan is definitely better than India when it comes to police corruption or low level bureaucracy corruption, because salaries at the base are higher. But when you look at the very top (ministers, party presidents, comapny presidents, etc.) corruption in Japan is rampant (it is also the most difficult to see, and thus doesn't reflect well in this kind of survey). Just read books like Dogs and Demons or Gold Warriors and you will understand what I am talking about. Not a few dollars in the handshake, but millions or even billions of US$. Nothing comparable in India, IMHO.
 

Mike Cash

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PaulTB said:
That's the second not-quite-sure-how-to-interpret thing I've read of yours in two days.

Do you mean "Facts are stubborn things ... and therefore difficult to argue with." or "Facts are stubborn things ... and therefore difficult to get a good hold on." ?

I honestly can't tell :?

How strange. I usually write so clearly. Or at least as clearly as I think....which explains the confustion quite nicely, come to think of it.

I meant the former, of course.
 

PaulTB

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Maciamo said:
As I said, the importance in this case is where is the corruption. Is your index for political, police, business or all kinds of corruption ?

The index defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain, and measures the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among a country's public officials and politicians.

Maciamo said:
But when you look at the very top (ministers, party presidents, comapny presidents, etc.) corruption in Japan is rampant

And very, very, very rampant in India.
Christians Call for India's Prime Minister and Government to Resign in Wake of Scandal

http://www.saag.org/papers3/paper219.htm

State government of Andhra Pradesh
BBC NEWS | South Asia | India corruption row halts food aid

India Corruption "License to Loot"
"Former Indian prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao stands charged in three cases of corruption, bribery and forgery. A number of other high profile politicians from all major parties are also facing investigations for dubious deals made while they were in public office."

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_18-11-2003_pg7_52

http://www.ti-bangladesh.org/ti-india/documents/pmletter.htm
 
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Maciamo

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Still, the amounts involved in Japan are bigger, and politicians don't resign after a corruption scandal in Japan (or just for a few weeks or months, before coming back) and the party certainly doesn't step down. Your first link involves the military, the second is before the indepenence. You could find 1 corruped (how much ?) PM in the 3rd link, but almost all Japanese PM since Meiji (and they change often) were heavily corrupted (Mitsui's PM, Mitsubishi's PM, then after WWII, the US's PM, Recruit's PM, etc.). All your articles seem very light compared to what I read about Japan. The last two in September were this one and that one, but 100 million yen for a former PM is so trivial that he won't even be charged and received sympathy from other politicians, who see these "gifts" as a necessary evil. That was only for this month and only for the Japan Times. If you search better (unfortunatly not much before the advent of the Internet) you'll find that there are several such cases a year, always involving PM's, ex-PM's, aprty leaders, etc.
 

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Japanese government high rate of debt is also highly related to the corruptive tradition.You know,they spent much governmental fund into useless public construction plan that related to personal conections amongst politicians.

My girl friend is a teacher of a public middle school and she told the staffs who are working at the school (I am not saying about the teachers but the assistant staffs)are often hired by the personal connections.

She once seeked for the job from an municipal international exchangement organization but the interviews were alll done by personal connection and the result usually very clear. I felt like hearing the things happend in Korea,well it might be worse than Korea as I heard from her honest story.I was very shocked.
 

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Well, China and Russia are two of the most corrupted nation in the world, and they can be in the security council. So, is corruption an issue to join that privilage club? Let's get back to the topic.

In my opinion, India is the only one that deserve the most to be in the council. They have the seond largest population on the world and they are not represented. For Japan, I really don't see the purpose. Japan can still contribute to the world even if they are not in the council. Regarding Brazil, I think they are still not that important when it comes to world affair...and their economic is not that powerful too. And for Germany, I think they should sort this matter out with UK and France to form one representative in the council...why must European countries having 3 votes? It is very unfair to the others....taking into account that India has more population that all European countries add up together, yet they don't even have a say. And China has more people than Europe plus North America, yet they only have one vote. And Europe has 2 vote. If Germany were to come in, then they will have 3 votes...We have to ask ourselves a question, what is the purpose of having the council? Is it to give the already powerful countries or continent more power or to have a power balance and get everyone on the world represented?
 

PaulTB

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seasurfer said:
Well, China and Russia are two of the most corrupted nation in the world, and they can be in the security council. So, is corruption an issue to join that privilage club?
Has anybody ever actually joined as such? Well maybe, but only on a technicality. The founding permanent members are the same as the current permanent members except that China and the USSR essentially 'replaced themselves' when they changed regime. Therefore there is no precedent for adding or removing permanent members.
seasurfer said:
We have to ask ourselves a question, what is the purpose of having the council?
A good question.
seasurfer said:
Is it to give the already powerful countries or continent more power
Essentially, YES although this is balanced somewhat by the temporary elected members of the security council who don't have the veto.
seasurfer said:
or to have a power balance and get everyone on the world represented?
NO. That would be the general assembly.

Now if you don't like the current answers to the last two questions I suggest you consider carefully the first.
 

lolife

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I personally do not like the whole veto system, as it is functioning today. It's idiotic, at least in this day and age.

I wonder, instead of having single countries having "permanent seats", why not split all that up in regions? Like, say, North America, South America, Europe, Mid East, Africa (or even North and South part, the continent is HUGE), Asia, Asia-Pacific, and so on.. Regions which has some in common.

I wonder if that would work any better, be more fair? :?

Either way, I hope the UN works out it's deficiencies, as it shows very clear nowdays that it suffers from them. So.. Go UN! Go world! 🎈
 

Mike Cash

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When you come right down to it, the whole idea of the UN functioning as some sort of world government is pretty idiotic, so the veto system idiocy is a moot point.
 

Maciamo

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lolife said:
I wonder, instead of having single countries having "permanent seats", why not split all that up in regions? Like, say, North America, South America, Europe, Mid East, Africa (or even North and South part, the continent is HUGE), Asia, Asia-Pacific, and so on.. Regions which has some in common.

That would be ideal, or at least better, but we must again remember the purpose of this council. Then, if it could be ok for North Americans, Oceanians or Europeans to agree on one position each, That would be much more difficult within Asia, or they should divide it in 6 groups : Middle-East, Central Asia, Indian Subcontinent, South-East Asia, North-East Asia and Russia. Even so, Pakistan and India could have problems agreeing (although more due to petty disputes than fundamental values), and I can't even imagine Japan, China and Korea having to agree on something. A group for Latin America could work. The remaining African group would be hopeless as not only are their politicians are hypercorrupted and selfish, but how could a bunch of countries killing each others or dreaming to do it efficiently collaborate ?
 

Mike Cash

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Maciamo said:
The remaining African group would be hopeless as not only are their politicians are hypercorrupted and selfish, but how could a bunch of countries killing each others or dreaming to do it efficiently collaborate ?

Europe managed to overcome those problems somehow, didn't it?
 

Lacan

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mikecash said:
Europe managed to overcome those problems somehow, didn't it?
Just because most of the european countries are rich democracies...
when you don't have no food to eat you have to take it from others.
Not to mention the role of europe in all those fraticide wars...
 
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