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Thursday, August 26, 2004

Asia Times Online - The trusted news source for information on Japan

Asia Times Online - The trusted news source for information on Japan: "Japan

Quest for UN seat spotlights pacifist constitution
By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO - As Japan seeks a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, there is a growing perception that the country's 1946 anti-war constitution does not represent the current state of the world, nor the realities of Japanese society.

The UN General Assembly convenes on September 21, and Japan is expected to again press its case for a permanent seat on the Security Council, the world's leading body focused on keeping - not always successfully - international peace and security. Reforming and expanding the current Security Council - a snapshot of the world at the end of World War II - is a perennial issue.

At the root of the controversy is Article Nine of Japan's constitution and whether the country can exercise the right to collective self-defense. The government's constitutional interpretation is that the nation has the right, but it cannot be exercised. Article Nine prohibits Japan from taking part in combat operations.

But as the world's second-largest economy, Japan is in a position to play a large global political role as well. Hopes are rising for its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to make greater contributions to maintaining world peace and stability under the auspices of the UN peacekeeping forces. "

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