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Why does Japan strive for permanent UNSC member status?

Editor: Tong Xinxin 丨CCTV.com

02-03-2016 17:18 BJT

By Zhou Yongsheng, deputy director of Japan Research Center of China Foreign Affairs University

On January 25, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) set up a Strategy Headquarters to promote reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 

Negotiations on UN reform will start from February. The Headquarters comprise Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and 20 high-ranking officials, in efforts to realize Tokyo’s long-cherished dream of becoming a "permanent member" of the UNSC.

Yet, why does Japan fight so vigorously for the seat, despite many member states opposing them?  In 2005, when the UN celebrated its 60th anniversary, Tokyo pushed for UN reform in order to become a UNSC permanent member. 

Nevertheless, Japan’s bid, along with its so-called “Four Nation Bill,” had collapsed. Consequently, Japan announced plans to reduce its foreign aid to the UN.  It has since dropped to fifth place from the top position as a UN donor.  Japan's influence had also experienced a sharp decline.

After Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office, he sought to revitalize the nation’s international image and boost its standing in international relations. Tokyo wants to be a UNSC permanent member and Abe had increased foreign aid to make that happen. 

However, international relations did not change much. Many countries still opposed Japan's “permanent membership” entry. But, why does Tokyo still strive for it?

In Japanese culture, cowardice is considered a shame, surrendering without a fight is unforgivable. Even the Japanese know it won’t be an easy fight, but they feel compelled to continue on. 

And when forced to surrender, it is logical and acceptable. Therefore, Tokyo feels honor-bound to keep asking for permanent member status.  By seeking “permanent membership,” Japan wants to be perceived as a major power to promote a domestic constitutional amendment. 

To become a permanent member of the Security Council would represent a major symbol of world powers. Abe’s “positive pacifism” calls for “military contributions” to deliver world peace and security.

Abe believes that the Article IX requirements of the “Pacifist Constitution” have curtailed Japan’s use of military force. 

Abe wants to amend Japan’s Pacifist Constitution. If the trial failed, Abe can blame the “Pacifist Constitution,” and persuade the public to accept his changes.

Seeking to become a “permanent member” is a lofty idea to unite Japanese voters and distract them from concerns over domestic economic difficulties. 

Abe is inspiring national morale, which has been slacking over the past two decades.  He is hoping to maintain high levels of support for his government.

Tokyo is creating an atmosphere to expand its international prestige and lay a foundation for Japan to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. 

Abe knows the prospects for “permanent membership” are slim, but he is taking every opportunity to expand its impact in political, security, economic, cultural and other fields for Japan’s major power dream.

MOFA’s Strategy Headquarters had endorsed, “winning support of African countries” as an objective.  In the UN, there are 52 African member states, which have a huge impact.  Tokyo can gain more power to counter China’s influence in Africa. 

Currently, right-wing forces in Japan's Government have aroused worry among the international community. 

Tokyo continues to deny its military aggression history, which places the nation on the wrong path with the international community. Accordingly, its wishes to become a “permanent member” of the UNSC are just in vain. 


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.


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