S. Korea Moves to Block Japan’s UNSC Bid

Ryu Jin – The Korea Times

South Korea has rolled up its sleeve to thwart Japan’s bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
Kim Sam-hoon, ambassador to the U.N., Thursday heralded a clear shift in Seoul’s position from the previous “indirect opposition” to an active diplomatic drive to keep Japan from obtaining a seat in the top U.N. security body.
“There are difficulties for a country, which does not have the trust of its regional neighbors because of its lack of reflection on its past, to play the role of a world leader,” Kim said at a meeting with Korean correspondents in New York.
“We do not think Japan has the qualifications to become a U.N. Security Council member, and we will try to make sure it does not become one,” he added.
Japan has put itself on a collision course with both China and South Korea, as well as North Korea, in recent years as its leaders from time to time provoked its neighboring countries with improper statements and actions, triggering historical and territorial disputes.
In particular, Japan has recently created diplomatic friction with South Korea because of a series of attempts by Tokyo to lay claim to Tokto (Dokdo) in the East Sea. A new middle school textbook in Japan further exacerbated tensions as it glorifies the atrocities Japan committed during World War II.
Millions of men and women from countries in Asia and the Pacific were killed by the Japanese military, forced to provide labor or pressed into sexual slavery. Many believe Japan has yet to make a full apology for the wartime atrocities and pay adequate reparations to the victims.
South Korea will hold a meeting with other member countries of the so-called Coffee Club next month to discuss reform measures of the U.N., including the reform of the Security Council, according to Seoul’s mission at the U.N.
The UNSC is composed of five veto-wielding permanent members _ the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China _ and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms. South Korea once served as a non-permanent member in 1996-1997.
U.N. member nations have been discussing ways to reform the 15-member Security Council, with one of the two concrete options _ both increasing the total number of seats to 24 _ most likely being adopted.
Germany, India, Brazil and Japan, which openly declared their bids for permanent membership in an expanded Security Council, favor Plan A, which will increase the number of permanent members from five to 11 and non-permanent members from 10 to 13.
Instead of creating more permanent members, South Korea and other countries want to raise the number of non-permanent members in the UNSC.
“Our first goal will be thwarting Plan A,” Kim said. “Though we’re not opposed any particular country’s bid, we simply believe that a country not trusted by its regional neighbors cannot be a world leader.”
Any UNSC reform plan, which requires revision of the U.N. Charter, cannot be approved if any of the current five permanent members wields its veto rights.
A strong ally of Japan, the United States gave public support for Tokyo. China, though it has not so far made its position clear, has a similar stance with South Korea, according to sources.

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