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The following is an article written by Mr. Takashi Tsujii, a writer and poet. It appears on Asahi Shimbun on May 27th.|
Many business leaders and people in diplomatic circles seem to share the view that Japan adequately meets the requirements to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Their opinion is based on Japan's great financial contributions to the U.N. budget and to developing nations in the form of official development assistance.
But I disagree.
The United Nations is an international organization for peace. The greatest problem of the Security Council, which forms its core, is how to deal with U.S. unilaterism. The U.S. government ignored the United Nations and launched a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. The problem is how to check such arbitrary action.
At the time, the Japanese government supported U.S. military action by toeing the U.S. line, whereas Germany, which is also seeking a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, acted more cautiously.
Its attitude was in striking contrast with Japan's. Given that the United Nations stands by the principle of international pacifism, I don't think Japan as it is today is qualified to become a permanent member of the Security Council.
To begin with, it is questionable whether the current Japanese administration has a will of its own and is capable of independent thinking. It is natural for other countries to say that allowing Japan to become a permanent member only serves to give the United States another vote in the Security Council.
It is also questionable whether Japan is doing its share as a responsible member of the international community.
Some people argue that it is unreasonable to distinguish between victors and vanquished nations 60 years after the end of World War II.
Although I won't completely deny such vague feelings as wrong, we must also squarely face the reality that 60 years after the war, Japan still has no Asian friends who trust it.
In other words, Japan has yet to settle its history that led to World War II.
Also in this regard, Japan is completely different from Germany, which has positively made an effort to reconcile with its neighbors. The fact that China and South Korea are opposing Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the Security Council is also a sign that Japan is not ready for the post.
The world is facing the challenge of U.S.-led globalization. As the reality of the Iraq war suggests, if nothing is done to stop this trend, it could destroy the cultural uniqueness of individual countries, including those in Asia. The protection of unique cultures and cultural diversity is a global task. Japan is also urged to make a contribution to advance it.
Looking back at modern Japanese history, I think it was the period leading up to around 1892 that Japan showed its best international awareness. While it had no military or economic power, the government at the time calmly read the dynamics of great world powers. It tried to protect its cultural uniqueness while facing the pressure of globalization by imperialistic powers.
However, it eventually leaned toward diplomacy backed with militarism and lost the war. After the war, Japan relied on its economic power to rebuild itself.
But recently, the business world and the government are seeking to open ways to export weapons because Japanese products are not selling as well as they used to.
Looking at their fallen morals, I cannot help but worry that Japan has been reduced to ``a country obsessed with economic values with no respect for ethics and culture.''
If Japan wants an honorable place in international society, it should appeal to the world the value of its peace Constitution. Specifically, it should establish the three principles not to ``possess nuclear weapons,'' ``dispatch troops overseas'' and ``adopt the draft system.'' Such principles make the best use of Japan's originality as a state based on history. It is also the greatest contribution Japan can make to promote international peace.
In doing so, overseas activities of the Self-Defense Forces should be limited to peacekeeping operations decided by the U.N. Security Council.
That is how Japan should advance ``U.N.-centered diplomacy.''
Japan should first clearly express such national philosophies and strive to win the understanding of the international community, including its neighbors. Only when it does, should it consider making a bid for permanent membership on the Security Council.