Japan and the UN Security Council

In Foreign Policy, William Dobson looks at Japan’s chances of becoming a permanent member of the  UN Security Council.

“Of course, based on the merits, Japan is a natural candidate to take a permanent seat at the council’s table. Its share of financial contributions to the U.N. budget—now at 19 percent—has been second only to the United States since 1986. Indeed, its share is greater than the combined contributions of Britain, China, France, and Russia. During those years that the United States was in arrears to the world body, Japan actually stood as the single greatest underwriter of the U.N. system. Although Tokyo has trimmed its official development assistance in recent years, scores of Japan’s fellow U.N. members have benefited from the country’s generosity for decades. Nor are Japan’s diplomats strangers to the Security Council’s corridors. This year, Japan is serving its ninth term as one of the nonpermanent members to the council. Aside from Brazil, no country’s diplomats have logged as much time in this role.

But these same qualifications raise an important question: Has Japan truly conducted a foreign policy worthy of a world leader? What difference does it make if Japan frequently serves as a rotating member of the Security Council if its diplomats are seen as wallflowers? When has Japan introduced bold new initiatives or helped build coalitions to lead an international effort?”