Japan Makes Tough Decision To Wait For Next UNSC Seat

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The U.N. headquarters building in New York

NEW YORK — The Japanese government has made the tough decision to wait 10 years before seeking its next nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council in the 2033-2034 term.

By relinquishing its chance to become a council member again in the near future, Japan hopes to deepen its cooperation with emerging and developing countries collectively known as the Global South, a group to which China and Russia are reaching out.

However, the move will force Japan to be absent from the Security Council for an extended period.

There are over 50 U.N. members in the Asia-Pacific Group that are allocated two nonpermanent seats on the UNSC. Among the group are many emerging and developing countries, such as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Middle Eastern countries.

According to a Security Council source, these countries “have been increasing their national strength through economic growth in recent years, and are increasingly seeking to become nonpermanent members.”

Japan has already been elected to the Security Council as a nonpermanent member 12 times, including its current term, the most of any member. It will not seek another term for a while after its current term expires at the end of 2024 because it feels that “Japan has to consider the emerging economies [in the Asia-Pacific Group] that place importance on economic and diplomatic relations,” according to a U.N. diplomatic source.

However, if Japan’s absence from the Security Council is prolonged, it could negatively affect the country’s response to North Korea, which continues to develop nuclear weapons and missiles.

“This would be a major blow to Japan’s U.N. diplomacy,” a U.N. diplomatic source said. Japan has decided that it is necessary to announce its bid for the 2032 election at an early stage even if it runs against Maldives, which has also announced its candidacy.

Japan is working on a reform proposal with Germany, India and Brazil to expand the Security Council, which is considered to be dysfunctional. Because Japan has expressed a desire to be a permanent member of the Security Council, its bid to become a nonpermanent member could be seen as contradictory. According to the U.N. diplomatic source, there are concerns that it may interfere with the realization of the reforms.