Japan has stepped up its decade-old drive for winning a prestigious permanent seat on the Security Council, eager to win diplomatic recognition equal to its economic clout. Japan had been footing about 20 percent of the world body’s bills. But the strategy it has adoped to achieve its most-cherished foreign policy goal appears doomed to fail. Moreover, opposition from China and half-hearted U.S. support for its bid to gain permanent membership of the elite body appear to be the biggest stumbling blocks. China, currently the only Asian nation on the Security Council, has voiced opposition to the expansion, saying Japan must atone further for its wartime aggression. The United States has backed the bid of its close ally Japan but refused to throw its weight behind calls for a timeline to make the historic changes at the world body.
Japan has joined a group of four countries, known as G-4, comprising of Japan, India, Brazil and Germany. Japan has done so in the hope of getting some more votes and cooperation with the help of the other three countries. But, unfortunately, this strategy appears to have turned against its own cherished goal. Had Japan been alone, it would have received more support from certain countries such as Pakistan and the US. Pakistan has good relations with Japan. When Koizumi went to Pakistan to get its support, Pakistan had to decline it because of Japan entangling itself with its nuclear rival, India.
Pakistan has a 57-year old dispute with India over Kashmir. It was the cause of Pakistan’s three wars with India. Pakistan’s case for Kashmir is based on two Security Council resolution passed in 1948 and 1949 asking for the plebiscite by the Kashmiris under UN auspices to decide whether they want to join India or Pakistan. As long as India is not ready to implement these UN resolutions and it remains a party to this dispute, Pakistan cannot accept India as a permanent member of the Security Council.
China leaned toward a rival plan, proposed by Italy, Mexico and Pakistan, to enlarge the Security Council to 25 members, but without additional veto-wielding permanent members. In the Italy-Mexico-Pakistan plan, some non-permanent members could be re-elected at the end of their two-year stints on the Security Council, unlike the current practice.
Pakistan has become an active sponsor of this rival plan and is working fervently against any resolution from G-4 which favors India as one of the permanent members of the Security Council. Turkey and some other friendly Muslim countries are supporting Pakistan’s position. All such Pakistan-friendly countries would have supported Japan, had it separated itself from India. Thus several countries, which are friendly to Japan, have been thrown in a position to oppose her bid simply because that Japan has joined hands with India.
Being a Muslim country, Pakistan is a member of the Organization of Islamic Countries, a group of 57-members. Pakistan is expecting support from most, if not all, of them. Japan and the other G-4 countries need the support of two-third of 193 UN members. It is not easy to get the support of 128 countries while a lot of Muslim, African and Middle-Eastern countries may like to side with Pakistan’s position due to their common religion, culture and traditions as long as there is no clash of their respective national interests against each other.
In the next twenty years, India is expected to rank after China economically and increase its clout as a major power in the international arena. But unlike Pakistan, at present, India does not have any group of countries aligned with it by their common religion, culture or traditions. Unlike OIC, there is no Organization of Hindu Countries which may feel any affinity to support any position India may adopt on any international issue. Except two small countries like Nepal and Bhutan, there is no other Hindu country in the world to side with India due to their common religion or culture.
Unlike Europe, India is aligned with only a small group of seven countries, known as Saarc on geographical basis. Geographically, it has grouped with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Pakistan. It is called South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc). None of them are pro-India in their foreign policies. They are rather aggrieved of Indian domination and policies against their broader national interests. Due to their long-held grieviances against a dominating India, most of them may support Pakistan against India, if they have to choose any one out of the two for voting.
India is trying to but still it has not become a member of ASEAN. Even if it succeeds in it, ASEAN is more inclined towards China rather than Japan or India. Despite receiving massive ODA from Japan, a majority of ASEAN countries have already concluded Free Trade Agreements more with China rather than with Japan. Huge Chinese market is a bigger attraction for their imports and exports than the Japanese one. Despite receiving all the money from Japan in the form of ODA, they will support Chinese position rather than that of Japan, as their national interests are better served by it. Thus Japan has unnecessarily lost the favor of a great number of ASEAN and also Muslim and African countries by tying itself with India in the form of G-4.
A similar case is with Italy as well. It is moving hand-in-hand with Pakistan and Mexico. It is also actively opposing all G-4 resolutions which recommend its European rival, Germany, for the permanent membership of the Security Council. Thus all those countries of Europe and of the twenty five members of EU which are friendly to Italy have been thrown into a position to oppose Japan’s bid as well, as it has joined with G-4 in which Germany is included. US is also not enthusiastic to support Germany, as it will mean three European countries in the Security Council and that too such a one which has sided with France against US regarding Iraq. Thus US is also not happy at Japan’s affiliation with the G-4.
As a matter of fact, Japan was shocked and surprised even by the attitude of its topmost trustworthy ally, the US, when the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice telephoned her Japanese counterpart that Washington supported Tokyo’s bid but could not back the four nations’ resolution, which at the time included veto rights. Japanese press criticized the government for its miscalculation about US support. After receiving such a threatening telephone call from Rice, Japan suddenly changed its course and pressured its G-4 allies to amend the resolution incorporating the wishes of the US. Despite the opposition of India, Japan forced the G-4 to renounce their ambitions of veto power as permanent members of the Security Council for the next 15 years. Thereafter the position will be reviewed afresh. After these changes, Japan is looking forward to get US support, which, in any way, is half-hearted due to Japan’s alignment with Germany.
Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi announced in Bandung conference that his country will double ODA to African countries in a few years. It is a part of Japanese culture to give precious gifts or dole out money to the person from whom a Japanese would desire to gain some favor. But money is not always the answer. Pakistan is a big recipient of Japanese ODA and is also extremely thankful for it. But its national interests demand not to support Japan in return for its Security Council bid due to its rivalry and disputes with India.
Another good example of it came to light when Indonesian President recently visited Japan and concluded various trade and other goodwill agreements with this country. But when he was asked to support Japan for its permanent membership of the Security Council, he politely declined. But the Japanese thinking is that one can win favor by doling out money. Indonesian refusal was due to its alignment with China as an ASEAN country and also due its sympathies with a Muslim country like Pakistan.
As regards the use of money to get a political favor, Japan had a similar bitter experience with China. Foreign Minister Machimura was lamenting that China has forgotten all the massive aid Japan had given to China in 1990s. Despite receiving big amounts of ODA, China is No.1 opponent of Japan’s efforts to get permanent seat in the Security Council to such an extent that it has clearly threatened to use its veto power to block Japan, even if gets a two-third support from the General Assembly. UN Charter can be amended only if there is a support of two-third of it members and also if the amendment is passed by the Security Council. As long as China is openly announcing to use its veto, all Japan’s attempts will prove futile to get permanent membership of the Security Council.
In this way, China will be using a double-edged sword. By vetoing G-4 resolution to block Japan, Indian bid for the permanent Security Council seat will also be blocked. And that will also be a big favor by China for its long-term ally—–Pakistan.