Koizumi: Pacifist Constitution no hindrance to his bid for UNSC permanent seat

Saturday, September 25 2004 @ 05:59 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on September 21, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Japan would seek to join the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, hand-in-hand with Germany, India and Brazil "to create a new United Nations for the new era". To elaborate on his bid for the permanent seat at the UNSC, he stressed the following points at the General Assembly and the subsequent press conference:

1) It will help reform the U.N. to add new permanent members to its Security Council.
2) Japan's war-renouncing Constitution will not constitute a hindrance as has been proved in Iraq, East Timor and other countries.

But obviously he failed to impress the audience despite the well-written notes studded with empty rhetoric, which he recited without a minor deviation.

As to reforming the U.N., he failed to elaborate on how exactly the 59-year-old international body would be reformed just by adding Japan along with the three other countries. Back home, the PM has been known to be an ardent advocate of reform. He is planning to split up the Japan Highway Public Corporation into three and privatize them next year. But nobody has been convinced that the arbitrary split-up and privatization will result in an improved efficiency. He is also working on a split-up and subsequent privatization of the nation's bloated postal system. But obviously he is just creating more highly-paid positions instead of cutting them back.
Remember Japan is a nation where amakudari, or descent from heaven (by retired bureaucrats down to the private sector or quasi-governmental organizations), is still a widespread practice. At the same time Koizumi has been talking a lot about a reform of the national pension system which is now on the verge of bankruptcy. He talks about many other reforms. And yet he has never delivered on his pledge. That is quite OK with the Japanese people. But unfortunately, ambassadors to the U.N. from all over the world could not visualize how the UNSC can be reborn as a functional international body that it once was, by bloating the P-5 club to P-10 in 2005. Some among the audience may have thought that the UNSC might as well give two votes to the United States instead of giving one voting right to Japan.

Koizumi went on to say that Japan's pacifist Constitution would be no hindrance to his bid for the permanent seat.

Earlier this year Koizumi ordered some SDF (Self-Defense Forces) personnel be dispatched to Samawah, Iraq. In reality, however, these troops were nothing more than a group of disguised plumbers, disguised carpenters, disguised electricians and disguised doctors because of the constitutional constraint. That is why unlike their American, British, Dutch or Italian counterparts, the Japan's SDF troops were welcomed by Iraqi locals like emissaries for peace. Even the terrorist groups were too lenient toward Japanese hostages to behead them. So far so good. And who are supposed to defend these peace-loving gentlemen in khaki in case of an assault by insurgents? The Dutch contingent deployed in the same area. And that is why the Japanese people recoiled at the news that the Dutch government might consider the pullout of its troops.

It is true that a consensus is being built that sooner (in 2005 that falls on the 50th anniversary of the 1955 System) or later (in 2006 that falls on the 60th anniversary of the current Constitution), we have to amend or abolish the pacifist Constitution. While in my opinion, the real issue lies with its Chapter 1 that defines the role of the Emperor as "the symbol of national unity", discussing the imperial institution has remained taboo. So the ruling LDP and oppositions (DPJ, SDPJ, JCP) alike, as well as the media, act as if the sole issue to be addressed when discussing the constitutional amendment is war-renouncing Article 9 of Chapter 2. But any argument on Article 9 that gets around the touchiest issues of preemptive actions against international terrorist groups or "rogue" nations and of the possible withdrawal from the NPT will only lead us to yet another hypocrisy and self-deception. In our opinion either course of action can not be totally ruled out.

The "dollar diplomacy" most becomes a nation like Japan, after all.

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