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US backs Japan's UNSC bid despite setback to momentum
Updated: 2005-04-18 22:24

TOKYO - New US ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer said Washington still supported Japan's bid to be a permanent member of the Security Council, despite balking at a deadline to expand the UN body.

"Not only do I personally support Japan's bid on the United Nations Security Council, more importantly my government supports that," Schieffer told his first press conference in Tokyo since arriving on April 8.

"We believe, at the end of the day, whatever reforms occur at the United Nations, Japan ought to be on the Security Council," said Schieffer, a Texan and close friend of US President George W. Bush.

The United States on April 7 declined to endorse a proposal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to set a September deadline for action on long-mulled reforms, dealing a setback to momentum for historic changes.

"I think setting up an artificial deadline is probably not healthy for the process. I think this is so complicated," Schieffer said.

"We will do damage to the process if we have to say 'this has to be done by such and such date,'" he said.

Japan has made securing a permanent seat on the Security Council a major priority and is in a joint bid with Brazil, Germany and India.

Only Japan's candidacy is explicitly backed by the United States. But the bid has been the focus of three weekends of furious demonstrations in China, which says Japan does not deserve a seat until it further atones for wartime atrocities.

The Security Council's set-up giving veto power to five nations -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- is based on global power dynamics at the end of World War II.

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