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US backs Japan's bid for UN council seat
Updated: 2004-08-14 01:49

The Bush administration supports Japan in its drive for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, Secretary of State Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage said Friday.

Powell said Japan must consider revising its pacifist constitution if it wanted to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Kyodo news agency reported August 13, 2004. [Reuters]
They offered U.S. support in separate interviews with Japanese media.

There are five permanent members of the Council, the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. The other 10 seats on the Council are rotated among all members of the U.N. General Assembly except Israel, which is excluded due to an Arab-led boycott.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a panel to determine whether power shifts in the world should be reflected by adding Japan and Germany as permanent members.

"We certainly have been supportive of Japan's interest in becoming a member of this major body within the United Nations Security Council," Powell said.

Separately, Armitage said, "The United States fully supports Japan in its desire to have a seat in the U.N. Security Council."

Japan is the second-biggest financier of the United Nations, its contributions exceeded only by those of the United States.

Japan contributed about $263 million to the United Nations general budget in 2003. The sum accounts for nearly one-fifth of the budget, and Japan pays hundreds of millions more for peacekeeping, development and other U.N. programs.

The United States contributes more than $300 million.

A Japanese government panel recommended last winter that Japan ask the United Nations to reduce its share of U.N. expenses.

Analysts said Japan might have been trying to put pressure on the United Nations to accept its request for a permanent seat on the 15-member Security Council, which includes the right to veto any Council resolution.

But Council reform, a central issue at the United Nations for more than a decade, moves very slowly and U.N. officials say it's unlikely changes would happen even by 2006.

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