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Japan pushes for U.N. Council seat

Tokyo foots 20 percent of cost of running the U. N.

From CNN Tokyo Correspondent Atika Shubert

United Nations
Kofi Annan

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Japan has put a forceful case to the United Nations for a permanent seat on the global organization's key body, the Security Council.

In a speech to the U.N.'s General Assembly on Tuesday, Japan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi outlined the nation's contribution to "peace-building and nation-building," in the post-war era.

''The time has come to make a historic decision to reform the United Nations, and the Security Council, in particular,'' he said.

''I would like to call upon the distinguished delegates of this body to work together and take a bold step toward the creation of a new United Nations for the new era."

The Japanese leader is spearheading a push to expand the Security Council to include not only Japan and Germany -- two of the world's biggest economies -- but also India and Brazil, two of the world's most populous nations. (Nations lobby for Council seats)

The Security Council currently has five permanent members with veto power -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- who have held their seats since the end of World War Two in 1945. An additional 10 countries are elected for two-year terms.

Japan has a strong argument; it foots 20 percent of the cost of running the United Nations, second only to the United States.

And the world's second-biggest economy already pays more than the remaining four other permanent members combined.

What's more the chronic difficulties in collecting U.N. dues from the United States means often times, Japan is the key provider of funding.

The anomaly of this situation is causing angst in Japan.

"The frustration comes from the fact that Japan is not automatically involved in the process of decision making in the U.N. Security Council but that we are always expected to pay," Professor Yoshihide Soya from Keio University told CNN.

"No taxation without representation."

There are obstacles, however, to Japan's drive for a greater role.

For both Germany and Japan, a so-called "enemy state" clause would have to be removed from the U.N. charter.

That clause prevents both from gaining permanent seats on the Council because of their World War II legacies.

While Tokyo has been criticized for "checkbook diplomacy," Japan has sent troops on peacekeeping missions in Cambodia and East Timor and, most recently and controversially, to Iraq.

That, Japan says, shows it is willing to risk not just money, but its own citizens, for world peace.

"Japan's role has thus become increasingly vital to the maintenance of international peace and security of the Security Council," Koizumi told the U.N.

"We believe that the role that Japan has played provides a solid basis for its assumption of permanent membership on the Security Council."

Most U.N. members consider the council's composition outdated and unrepresentative.

Any change in membership needs approval from two-thirds of the 191-nation General Assembly members and no veto from the five permanent council members.

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