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Germany

Japan Gives Up Joint G4 Bid to Reform UN Security Council

With Japan's decision to pursue permanent membership on the UN Security Council without its G4 allies, the prospects of Germany joining the big guys in the top UN body are looking less rosy than ever.

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Everyone wants a seat at the Security Council table

Japan said Friday it had decided against sponsoring the latest bid by Brazil, Germany and India to reform the UN Security Council because it doubts they will win sufficient support.

"We decided not to be one of the countries making the joint proposal since we don't think it's profitable to submit it again at this moment," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told a news conference.

"There is no possibility that they can gain support from two-thirds of the members" of the UN General Assembly, Abe said.

"While pursuing consultation with the United States, we are going to continue making an effort to realize reforms," he added.

Deja vu

The latest proposal is similar to that presented last year by Brazil, Germany, India and Japan -- the so-called Group of Four -- which failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly.

Celso Amorim, Außenminister Brasiliens

Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim

The countries have proposed to boost the council's membership from 15 to 25, with six new permanent seats and four new non-permanent seats.

The proposal ran into opposition from the United States and China, both permanent members of the council along with Britain, France and Russia.

In Brazil, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said that, despite Japan's decision not to participate this time, the three countries co-sponsoring the resolution would continue to consult with Tokyo on the issue.

Japan going solo

On Thursday, Japan said it was drawing up its own new UN proposal that it hoped would be acceptable to the United States, its primary ally, in the aim of securing a prestigious permanent seat on the Security Council.

Japan Ausstellung in Lübeck

Will Japan beat Germany in the race to the permanent Security Council seat?

"This time we will first seek to gain support from the United States while simultaneously maintaining support from the G4 group of allies, which is still an engine for the Security Council reform," said Toshihiro Kitamura of the Japanese foreign ministry.

"We hope to file the fresh proposal as soon as possible, in order for the reform of the Security Council to be realized in the UN General Assembly in September," Kitamura said.

Japan, the UN's number-two contributor after the United States, renewed its complaints last month that it pays too much to the world body, after Secretary General Kofi Annan said Tokyo should not slash its contribution despite losing its bid for a permanent Council seat.

Germany 's waning dreams

During her forthcoming visit to Washington from Jan. 12 to Jan. 14, German Chancellor Merkel will no doubt address the issue of German membership in the Security Council with her American colleagues. It is unlikely, however, that she will be able to get the United States behind the German bid.

John R. Bolton

US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton

The US strongly favors keeping the number of Security Council permanent members unchanged.

Earlier this week, the US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, vowed that in 2006 he will push to reinvigorate a stalled restructuring of the world body by focusing on the creation of a new UN human rights panel, which would replace the existing 53-member Human Rights Commission.

In an interview with The Washington Post, published Monday, Bolton said he would seek assurances that the UN Security Council's five major powers will be guaranteed posts on a new Human Rights Council, ahead of sensitive diplomatic talks due to resume next week on how to create the new body.

"We'd like to see if we can get the commission abolished and the new council put in place before the existing commission meets again in Geneva in a few months," Bolton said.

The latest US initiative has been criticized for boosting efforts by China and Russia to gain membership in the new rights body, despite their human rights record, as well as for seeking to secure and strengthen the place of the five permanent Security Council members at the center of UN decision making.

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