Japan has been elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the 12th time. During the U.N. General Assembly held on June 9th in New York, Tokyo came back to the U.N. panel after its previous mandate in 2016-2017. No other country has ever been elected so many times. Japan was the favourite candidate for the seat, allocated by the Asia-Pacific region, while five outgoing non-permanent members have been replaced. Moreover, Ecuador, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland have been selected to work alongside Tokyo. Japanese membership will start on January 1st 2023 and will serve a two-year term.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the recent nuclear threats of North Korea, the maintenance of international peace and security has been the main topic of discussion at the United Nations. Although, due to its composition, the Security Council has been unable to offer a concrete solution to address present challenges. Indeed, the council is split between the US, France and the UK on one side and Russia and China on the other. This situation, exacerbated by growing tensions, made the members of the Council unable to find a common ground for dialogue, even after the special emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly, called in February.
As reported by the Asahi Shinbun: “all members feel the Council is divided to a great extent,” said Kimihiro Ishikane, the permanent representative of Japan to the United Nations, in a recent interview. “Japan is expected to act as a bridge among the members to maintain unity within the council.” As reported by the Japanese newspaper, during its mandate as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Tokyo will work primarily to enhance a structured dialogue between the five permanent members. The ending goal is to find a common ground to discuss the possible resolution of the conflict in Ukraine and to enhance general distension in the international arena. Meanwhile, the world faces many conflicts and challenges. Several countries expect the United Nations to play a role in conflict prevention and peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Therefore, Japan reported that “it will aim to maintain and strengthen the international order based on the rule of law, while cooperating in order for the Security Council to fulfill its expected role, through close communication and careful dialogue with the other Member States” as reported in the press release of the Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshisama.
Hopefully, the Japanese dialogue-oriented stance will stimulate negotiation among the members of the Council. Indeed, Ishikane has exchanged opinions with other countries’ ambassadors, pointing out how not every country agrees with the policy of isolating Russia. In particular, the Japanese representative reported the expressed concerns of Asian and African countries that have relevant relations with Russia, underlining the importance of a conciliatory solution to the conflict which will not exclude Russia from the global game.
Overall, the reelection of Japan to a non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council demonstrates the trust that many countries have in the mediating effort of Tokyo. Moreover, the possibility of a future reform of the United Nations, supported by the representative Ishikane, could mark a historic turning point for the global community.