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[ED] Japan's unwelcome move

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Tokyo should not seek UNSC permanent seat

U.S. President Joe Biden's support for Japan's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is raising questions over the Asian giant's qualifications. He should have considered South Korea and other Asian neighbors about such a move.

During his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday, Biden said he backs Japan becoming a UNSC permanent member, while he and Kishida recognized the need to reform the Security Council. His endorsement is likely to lend credibility to Japan's bid.

Yet Japan's permanent UNSC seat is still a remote possibility, given the difficult task of revising the U.N. Charter. Even if U.N. members succeed in rewriting the charter to pave the way for Japan and some other countries to gain permanent status on the council, any of the existing five permanent members could use its veto power to block the entry of any new member.

For this reason, Korea and other Asian neighbors, which had suffered from Japan's occupation and aggression in the early part of the 20th century, do not have to worry too much about Japan vying for UNSC permanent membership. Japan's move is nothing new, either.

The country has been floating the idea of gaining a permanent seat since 2004 when Junichiro Koizumi was prime minister. Former U.S. President George W. Bush expressed support for the idea. His successor Barack Obama also did the same during his summit with Japan's nationalist Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015.

What matters now is that Japan is trying to make a pitch for a permanent UNSC seat on the heels of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Tokyo is apparently taking advantage of growing international calls to reform the Security Council. Russia, one of the permanent members along with the U.S., Britain, France and China, was criticized for its veto of a UNSC resolution condemning its own war of aggression against Ukraine.

Germany, India and Brazil have also been jockeying for permanent status on the council. Some countries are even calling for stripping Russia of its permanent seat in response to Moscow's unprovoked war against Ukraine and its brutal war crimes. But reforming the UNSC is very difficult because it requires approval by at least two-thirds of 193 U.N. members as well as all five permanent members of the UNSC.

Nevertheless, we cannot back Japan's bid for permanent status and its move to increase its defense budget to become a regional military power. Japan was an imperial power that colonized Korea and other Asian countries. It fought against the U.S. and other allied countries during World War II. Japan has still refused to admit to and apologize for its atrocities such as wartime sex slavery and forced labor. Japan has also tried to gloss over its wartime misdeeds. It is pushing to get Sado mine, which was linked to wartime forced labor, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In this situation, we don't believe Japan is qualified to take over a permanent seat on the Security Council. The Yoon Suk-yeol government should send a clear message of opposition to Japan's unwelcome move.

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