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Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Japan's UNSC bid dealt blow by U.S.


Staff writer

Japan will probably postpone submitting a resolution to expand the U.N. Security Council in light of an objection aired last week by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Foreign Ministry sources said Tuesday.

In a telephone conversation Friday with Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, Rice urged Tokyo to refrain from submitting the resolution this month, the sources said.

"If the resolution is submitted in haste, we would have to oppose to it," a senior ministry official quoted Rice as telling Machimura. "There would be confusion if it is submitted too early."

Although the U.S. has publicly voiced support for Japan's candidacy to become a permanent Security Council member, it is widely believed to be reluctant to expand the membership because it could make consensus-building harder.

The so-called Group of Four UNSC hopefuls — Japan, Brazil, Germany and India — have worked toward jointly submitting the resolution later this month to the U.N. General Assembly. They hope a decision on Security Council reform will be made during a U.N. summit in September.

The resolution advocates increasing the current number of UNSC permanent members from five to 11 and adding four more nonpermanent members. The four countries are seeking to obtain the expanded permanent seats.

Japan will try to win wider support for the Group of Four resolution before submitting it to the General Assembly, the ministry sources said.

Machimura hinted to reporters Tuesday morning that the submission of the resolution, initially planned this month, would likely be delayed until July.

"The African Union summit will be held in early July and African nations have asked us to wait until then to submit the resolution," Machimura said, adding that the Caribbean nations summit takes place July 1.

"We will decide on the appropriate timing to submit the resolution after judging those moves and reactions from other nations," he said.

Machimura refused to comment on the contents of his conversation with Rice. The Foreign Ministry earlier said U.N. reform was among the topics covered in the discussion but gave no specifics.

Japan will try to persuade the three other Group of Four members to postpone submitting the resolution, but it is unclear whether they will agree, especially since Germany wants to submit the resolution this month as planned, the sources said.

In a related move, Machimura on Monday canceled a trip to Nigeria to attend a meeting of the African Union member states, after the African Union withdrew its invitation to the Group of Four, apparently because of the union's ties with a group of U.N. states opposing the Group of Four's proposal.

Instead, Machimura headed Tuesday to Brunei, Vietnam and Cambodia to lobby for Japan's Security Council bid.

The senior Foreign Ministry official said Machimura will try to make sure the Southeast Asian nations continue to support Japan's Security Council candidacy, given that China appears to be lobbying those countries not to back Tokyo's bid.



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