Foreign minister criticizes ‘status quo’ . . .
At this week’s virtual gathering of the United Nations General Assembly, Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi underscored his country’s desire to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Currently, only five countries (China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.) have permanent seats on the UNSC, which come with veto power. The UNSC’s composition has come under criticism from UN member states and pundits alike for failing to adapt to a changing global power distribution since the UN’s creation 75 years ago. For years, Japan, along with India, Germany, and Brazil, has aspired to a permanent seat on the UNSC. On Wednesday, this ‘Group of Four’ re-emphasized the “urgency” of reforming the UN’s major decision-making bodies.
Japanese public increasingly skeptical of UN . . .
Tokyo’s desire for more global responsibility comes amid a steep decline in Japanese public opinion of the UN. A new Pew Research poll of 14 wealthy democracies shows that only 29 per cent of Japanese have a “very favourable” or “somewhat favourable” view of the global body, a 27-point drop from 2006. Favourability in the other 13 countries (Canada, Australia, South Korea, the U.S., and nine Western European nations) ranged from 59 per cent to 80 per cent. When asked about the UN’s contributions to eight aspects of global peace and well-being, Japan’s views fell below the median on all of them. For example, only 24 per cent feel the UN “advances the interests of countries like ours” (median 59%), and only 26 per cent believe the UN “cares about the needs of ordinary people” (53% median).
Several sources of skepticism . . .
Numerous explanations for the Japanese public’s declining estimation of the UN have been floated. One is that the Japanese have been influenced by the Trump Administration’s stark criticisms of the UN. Another is the Japanese public’s negative assessment of the WHO’s handling of the current coronavirus pandemic. And yet another view is that most people in Japan want their country to continue to play a robust global role, but have grown frustrated with being shut out of influential positions within the UN system. Similarly, some see a stronger UN role as a way to counter China’s growing influence in that body.
- Nikkei Asian Review: Japan aims for top UN positions to counter China’s sway
- Nikkei Asian Review: Japan ready to join as permanent UN Security Council member
- Pew Research: International cooperation welcomed across 14 advanced economies